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Coaldale home suffers heavy damage in afternoon fire

  • ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Firefighters work to squelch a fast-moving fire in Coaldale Thursday afternoon.
    ANDREW LEIBENGUTH/TIMES NEWS Firefighters work to squelch a fast-moving fire in Coaldale Thursday afternoon.
Published October 25. 2013 05:00PM

A man is displaced after a fast-moving fire claimed his home and damaged two others yesterday in Coaldale.

Firefighters and other emergency responders were called to the 200 block of West Howard Avenue just before 3 p.m. for a working structure. They arrived to see the entire block saturated with white smoke and a rising wall of flames inside the basement garage of 237 W. Howard Ave.

During the response, area resident Louis Slakoper could be seen spraying water from a garden hose onto an adjacent property, 235 W. Howard Ave., owned by his brother.

Firefighters, who were on scene within minutes of the call, had the fire under control in a short time. The Coaldale Fire Company is located about a block to the east of the property.

"I have never been through anything like this," said Anastacio Saldana Lopez, of 237 W. Howard Ave. Lopez, who has owned and lived at his residence for about seven years, added that he will be living with his daughter in New York. "I have no idea how the fire started."

There was no insurance on the home

"It will probably be a total loss," said Captain Thomas Polischak, Coaldale Fire Company. "There's significant damage from the basement to the first floor."

The fire and smoke also resulted in significant smoke damage to adjacent properties, including 235 W. Howard Ave., owned by Louis Slakoper, and 239 West Howard Ave, owned by Danielle Cunningham.

Responding in addition to Coaldale Fire Company and Coaldale Police, were fire companies from Lansford, Tamaqua, Summit Hill, Nesquehoning, Tuscarora and others. Also responding were ambulance crews from Tamaqua, Lehighton and Summit Hill. Tamaqua Rescue Squad was on scene filling oxygen tanks for all the firefighters working in the heavy smoke.

Members of the Tamaqua Volunteers group helped to provide food and refreshments to the emergency responders, who were on scene for hours following the fire to prevent another flare up. The group added that the Burger King in Tamaqua and Pappy's Mini Mart in Coaldale also donated food and refreshments to the responders and affected individuals.

Coaldale, Lansford and Summit Hill fire police volunteers controlled vehicle and pedestrian traffic around the scene.

Second Assistant Chief Stephen Polischak said the cause of the fire is undetermined and a state police fire marshal is expected to be on scene today. He added that he will be focusing on one area in the basement of the home. Firefighters could be seen removing numerous smoldering wood burner blocks for the area surrounding the home's wood burning stove.

"No injuries were reported by any of the fire departments or anyone else on scene," Thomas Polischak said.

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