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Row homes are saved

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS A fire in the unit's block of North Walnut Street in Lansford yesterday resulted in two households being displaced.
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS A fire in the unit's block of North Walnut Street in Lansford yesterday resulted in two households being displaced.
Published December 19. 2012 05:02PM

Two Lansford families are displaced, a family pet killed and Christmas presents destroyed following a row home fire that started yesterday at 5 and 7 North Walnut Street.

"The firefighters' quick response prevented the whole block from going up in flames," said neighbor Walter Counterman. "They are all heroes."

Nicole Stove, who lives in 5 North Walnut Street saw smoke shooting out of electrical outlets of her home and called 911.

"When I arrived, I saw the smoke shooting from electrical outlets in the living room and then went next door to 7 North Walnut Street to investigate," said Lansford Police officer Robert Shubeck, who was the first to arrive on scene. "The front windows of 7 North Walnut Street were very hot to the touch, so I knew we had a working fire."

"The house was fully charged (filled) with smoke," said Tom Staruch, Chief, Lansford Ambulance.

Nicole Fink, who lives at 7 North Walnut Street with her two kids, a 7-year-old son and 8-year-old daughter, was at work when the fire started.

Also responding, EMTs with Lansford Ambulance assisted police and firefighters with evacuating adjacent residents located from 1 to 19 North Walnut Street.

Lansford EMTs were quick to offer CPR to a dog found by firefighters in 7 North Walnut Street.

"We are trained to help pets too, but never thought we would have to use it," said EMT Dwayne Kistler, who with Staruch were two of the EMTs who performed animal CPR on the dog. Despite their gallant attempt to resuscitate it, the dog succumbed to smoke inhalation.

Responding within a minute of the first alarm, Lansford firefighters rushed inside 7 North Walnut St. to control the fire, which was primarily in the floor and walls of the row home. Water, smoke and heat damage to 7 North Walnut St. resulted in the Fink's furniture, ceiling, floor, carpet, appliances, Christmas tree and presents to be destroyed.

Firefighters were quick to quell the fire, as no flames could be seen from outside the home.

"I was really lucky. Our house only had a little smoke damage," said Stove, who is staying with friends and family until power can be turned back on.

Stove has two children, a boy aged 5 and a girl aged 7, who weren't home at the time. She added that she appreciates everyone's offer of assistance, but kindly stated she doesn't need anything.

"The fire was ruled as an electrical fire," added Ron Hood, assistant fire chief, Lansford Fire Company.

"Even though both homes sustained damage, the main damage centered around the living room of 7 North Walnut St."

Both families were offered assistance by the Tamaqua Salvation Army and a number of other organizations. The Tamaqua Salvation Army, Tamaqua Volunteer group and Schuylkill Carbon Marine Corps League are also assisting the Fink family with food, clothing and toys. The Fink family is currently staying with friends. For more information on how to help, call (570) 668-1234.

Responding were firefighters and emergency officials from Summit Hill, Coaldale, Nesquehoning, Tamaqua and Jim Thorpe. Lansford Fire Police controlled traffic around the area for the duration. No other injuries were reported. PPL also arrived and shut off power to both homes.

"Thank you firefighters for saving our home," added Stove.

"If the neighbor wasn't home to see the smoke, this could have been disastrous," said Hood.

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