Victims identified in Lake Harmony fatal explosion
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Firefighters stand near the scene of a deadly explosion in Kidder Township Monday afternoon. Melissa Berwis died in the blast. Her boyfriend, Bruce Barberio, was seriously injured.
The victims of an explosion that occurred in Kidder Township Monday afternoon have been identified, as has the cause of the blast.
Police identified the deceased as Melissa Berwis, 29, of Albrightsville. The injured male was identified as Bruce Barberio, 40, also of Albrightsville.
Kidder Township Police Chief Matt Kuzma released the names Tuesday and said the fire marshal has ruled the explosion and resulting fire to be accidental.
"The result of the fire investigation showed a propane gas explosion occurred as a result of a damaged propane line within the crawl space area of the home," reported Kuzma.
The home, at 5 Tobyhanna St. in Lake Harmony Estates was leveled, leaving Berwis dead and Barberio seriously injured.
As of press time Barberio was listed in stable condition at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Cedar Crest campus. According to a hospital spokesperson Barberio's condition has improved to the point that he is being transferred from ICU to a trauma unit this morning.
Berwis and Barberio are the owners of Barberio Cleaning Service. The couple were caretakers for the property.
"Melissa was meticulous," said Lorraine Sloss of Lake Harmony. "She and Bruce worked for many of the families in this area and I never heard one complaint."
The couple has three small children ages 2, 7 and 10.
"I have known Melissa and Bruce and the kids for six years," Barbara Franzosa of Albrightsville said. "I have never known a closer family, they did everything together."
"Melissa was a very hard worker and a wonderful mother" Franzosa said. "I used to baby sit the two older children and whenever they see me at Pine Point Plaza, they would always yell out to me 'Hi Miss Barbara.' I hope that doesn't change."
According to Franzosa, the children and the family dog are being cared for by family members.
A fund has been set up to assist the family through the Albrightsville Fire Company. Donations may be made out to the Barberio Family Fund and can be mailed to the firehouse at P.O. Box 133, Albrightsville, PA 18210. Checks can also be dropped off at Mauch Chunk Trust Company.
In addition, tonight the Penn-Kidder Campus School PTA will be having a fundraiser for the Barberio Family during its Math Night event from 6 to 8 p.m. at the school. The public is welcome.