9 displaced from Palmerton complex
BOB FORD/TIMES NEWS Crews from Palmerton and surrounding communities battled the fire in the Harvard apartment complex in Palmerton. For additional photos, see the gallery at www.tnonline.com.
One person was rescued after an apartment building in Palmerton was damaged by fire Tuesday afternoon.
Palmerton firefighters responded to the scene just before 2 p.m., after the fire started in the kitchen of one of the units in the Franklin building of the Harvard Apartments complex on Harvard Avenue, according to borough Fire Chief Larry Zawaly.
There are 11 apartment units in the Franklin building, which is owned by Frank DePaulo. There are several buildings in the complex.
"Upon arrival, heavy smoke was showing from the roof vents of the building," Zawaly said. "It turned out that the top floor rear left apartment was fully engulfed in fire, caused by a grease fire from cooking."
Zawaly said that one apartment was gutted and was a total loss. One cat and three turtles were able to be rescued, he said.
A total of nine residents were displaced, though housing was found for all of them.
Those residents may eventually be able to move back into the apartments once they're cleaned up, said Zawaly, who noted the electric has been shut off in the whole building for safety reasons.
"The fire department did an excellent job. They stopped it from spreading to any other apartment," he said.
"It did destroy one particular apartment, but they saved everything (else) except for smoke and water damage to (some of) the other apartments."
Fortunately, there were no injuries, said Zawaly, who added that the main problem was a lack of manpower from Palmerton.
Firefighters were in Slatington standing by because there was a major structure fire in Schnecksville at the time, he said.
"We had to run water lines from Second Street. Thankfully, we got it under control," he said.
"We had two attack teams; one went in from the front, and one went in from the back. That could have been a major disaster if that would have gone any further."
Zawaly said firefighters rescued one man who was standing at his window because he was afraid to leave his apartment due to the smoke. The man was brought down on a ladder, he said.
The fire was under control within about an hour, Zawaly said.
Also assisting at the scene were Aquashicola Volunteer Fire Company, Bowmanstown Volunteer Fire Company, East Penn Township Volunteer Fire Company and Lehighton Fire Department's aerial truck.