Blaze erupts in dwelling across from fire company
HARRY HONTZ/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Firefighters arrived to see flames pouring out the front window and door to 118 West High St., Coaldale. The duplex is located across from the Coaldale Fire Company.
A man, woman and child are displaced after a fast-moving fire claimed their Coaldale home yesterday afternoon.
Around 1 p.m., firefighters from Coaldale and surrounding communities were called to a duplex home, 116 and 118 West High St., for a report of an electrical fire and smoke in a home. Firefighters arrived at the dwelling, which was located across the street from the Coaldale Fire Company, to see a bright wall of rising flames inside the front window of 118 W. High St.
"At first, I saw heavy smoke," said Coaldale Police Officer Todd Weiss, who was one of the first on scene. "A few seconds later, I saw a large wall of flame rising up the inside wall of the front of the home."
He added that the thick smoke inside was banked up to the first responders' knees.
Firefighters could be seen carrying a dog and snake out of 118 West High St. Both survived.
Joe Otto and Merari Costello and their 9-year-old boy, of 118 W. High St., are staying with friends in Seek for the time being. Their home suffered severe damage.
"We are extremely grateful for the hard work and dedication of all the responding firefighters," said Coaldale resident Mike Petrock, who came to help his brother, Rich Petrock of 116 W. High St. Rich Petrock's property sustained medium smoke and water damage.
Mike Petrock added, "Joe and Merari are such nice neighbors. They always helped my brother. It is sad that this happened to great people."
"We arrived to see heavy smoke pushing out of the siding and eves of the duplex," said Coaldale Fire Chief Rich Marek, who served as incident commander out of his private vehicle due to a medical issue. "All the responding units did an outstanding job preventing the fire from spreading to the connected home and adjacent properties."
Assistant Fire Chief Tom Polischak, Coaldale Fire Company, said that despite the fire occurring in the middle of the day, when most volunteer firefighters work, the responders had the fire under control within a short time.
"I'm so grateful they put a quick stop to the fire," said neighbor Jennifer Oyer of 112 West High St. "If firefighters didn't get here as fast as they did, both homes, as well as adjacent homes, could have gone up in flames."
Despite exhaustion from two firefighters, no serious injuries were reported.
"Although it appears to be electrical in nature, the cause hasn't been determined," said Marek.
Responding were fire companies from Coaldale, Lansford, Tamaqua and Summit Hill. Also responding were Tamaqua Rescue Squad and Tamaqua Ambulance. Fire police volunteers from Lansford and Coaldale closed the area off for the duration of the response and major cleanup.
Donating iced tea, water and pizza were Tamaqua Ambulance, Tamaqua Volunteers group, Pappy's Mini Mart of Coaldale and Cabrera's of Lansford.
The Tamaqua Volunteers group has also opened a one-month fund to help the affected families replace beds and other important items lost in the fire.
Monetary donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank by referring to "Sept. 17 House Fire in Coaldale."
More information about making donations call (570) 668-1234.