Home burns, man injured
LARRY NEFF/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Firefighters from Schuylkill, Carbon and Lehigh counties responded to a fire in New Ringgold Sunday night. The fast moving fire destroyed the home, despite efforts of the firefighters.
A two-and-a-half-story single home was destroyed and a man injured following a fire that started at 306 Hughes St., SR895, in New Ringgold, just before 10 p.m. Sunday.
Local firefighters, who fought the smoke and fire for a couple of hours in below-freezing temperatures, were quick to respond to the fully-engulfed home, as the residence was located less than a block away from the fire company.
Neighbors living at 308 Hughes St. were shocked when they noticed flames shooting from their neighbor's home located next door. Gary Neifert, who lives next to fire scene at 308 Hughes St., and serves as a volunteer fire police officer, heard two loud bangs before looking outside and noticing flames shooting up and out from his neighbor's home.
The destroyed property is owned by landlord John "Jackie" Belsak of New Ringgold.
An unknown male tenant, who lived alone in the home, was taken via ambulance to the Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township, for smoke inhalation and burns to his face.
One firefighter stated he discovered numerous propane tanks in the home. It was not known if they were empty.
Firefighters had to scale and cut a hole in the roof of the burning home to get to trouble spots that kept igniting. The fire was so hot it melted and cracked the adjacent home's windows. The heat also melted parts of Neifert's truck, despite his quick attempt to move it away from the fire while only wearing his underwear.
New Ringgold Fire Chief Christian Alexis said the cause of the fire is unknown and a state police fire marshal will be inspecting the home later today.
He also pointed out that the hard work and cooperation of all of the responding companies saved the adjacent homes from also being destroyed.
A neighbor said that the owner did have insurance.
In addition to the New Ringgold Fire Company and Tamaqua's rapid intervention team, many surrounding fire companies responded, including Tamaqua, West Penn, Schuylkill Haven, Mahoning Valley, Orwigsburg, East Penn, Landingville, Kempton, Walker Township and others.
The Schuylkill and Eastern Northumberland Chapter of the American Red Cross was also on scene offering support to the victim and to provide warm refreshments to all the emergency personnel who responded in below-freezing temperatures. New Ringgold and Penn Mahoning Ambulance also responded. New Ringgold Fire Police closed SR895 for the duration of the fire.