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Seven-year-old girl dies today following house fire in McAdoo

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Firefighters remove flammable items from the second floor to the home.
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Firefighters remove flammable items from the second floor to the home.
Published June 24. 2013 05:07PM

A 7-year-old girl has died, after firefighters had rescued her and three other people from a house fire located directly across the street from the McAdoo Fire Company just after 11:30 p.m. Saturday in McAdoo.

Firefighters pulled Lorraine Searfoss, 45, from a front second-floor window. A short time after, other firefighters took Madison Arner, 7, from the back of the home. Leshko said that Madison was resuscitated by firefighters.

Both were taken to Hazleton General Hospital, and later flown to the Lehigh Valley Hospital trauma center burn unit.

McAdoo Fire Company Assistant Fire Chief Robert Leshko said that firefighters had just started to tear down following their two-day block party when they observed smoke and flames coming from 25 South Kennedy Drive (SR309).

Firefighters responded quickly by running across the street, breaking down the front door, entering the home and removing four people from inside the home.

Leshko added that two other people inside the home, Dylan Danko, 21, and Savannah Searfoss, who turned 16 on Sunday, were able to escape the home on their own. Both Danko and Savannah Searfoss were also taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital for treatment of lesser degrees of smoke-related injuries.

"I think that if we were not there, we would have had fatalities," added Leshko, who said he called 911 while fellow firefighters began the rescue.

McAdoo Fire Company Captain Daniel Leshko said flames and heavy smoke were coming from the side windows of the building, inside a three-foot walkway that separated that building from an adjacent structure.

"It was a stroke of luck firefighters were at their station cleaning up and noticed the fire," said witness Joe Stempko. "There is no doubt in my mind that the firefighters saved their lives."

Also living in the home was Jerry Fisher Jr., also 45, boyfriend of Lorraine Searfoss. Fisher was not at home when flames broke out, Leshko said.

A state police fire marshal was on scene and determined the fire as accidental in nature, noting an electrical issue.

SPCA volunteers and firefighters were seen trying to catch one of the missing dogs. One dog and two cats died in the fire.

"There was a lot of fire and smoke coming from the side and back," said Daniel Leshko. "This could have easily turned into a tragedy."

Firefighters from Luzerne, Carbon and other Schuylkill County units were called to the scene to assist McAdoo volunteers.

Several firefighters were also treated at a rehab station set up at the fire house.

"Firefighters did a great job," said block party volunteer Michele Barnhart, who handed out water to the firefighters during the response. "It happened so fast."

Also damaged was an adjoining building to the south that housed Double D Auction services, 31 S. Kennedy Drive, which sustained little fire damage, and some water and smoke damage.

McAdoo and Rush Township Police, along with area fire police, assisted with detouring pedestrians and traffic away from the area.

Rapid Intervention Teams from both Mahanoy City and Tamaqua were also staged on scene in case a firefighter would become trapped or injured inside the building while battling the fire.

Robert Leshko credited firefighters from McAdoo and surrounding communities for their quick response in fighting the fire.

Companies that assisted were Tresckow, Hazle Township, West Hazleton, Freeland, Beaver Meadows, Delano, Hometown, Tamaqua, Mahanoy City, Sheppton, Coaldale, Keystone, ACTS, McAdoo and Rush Township Police.

"This could have been a lot worse, this could have been a tragedy with several fatalities," added Daniel Lesko.

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