Police: Charges Expected in Hazleton (PA) Fire

Fire Engineering news

Amanda Christman

Standard-Speaker, Hazleton, Pa.

(MCT)

Feb. 16—A fire which damaged a Hazleton home on Sunday night was sparked by the man living there, police say.

The 59-year-old man inside 64 N. Cedar St.started the fire on the basement floor with wood and lighter fluid and it spread up the wall and into the attic, according to a Pennsylvania State Policefire marshal attached to the Hazletonbarracks. Police have not released the man’s name.

“It is believed he started the fire to keep warm due to there being no heat in the home,” Fire Marshal Zachary Martiniwrote in a news release. He was sitting by the fire to keep warm while drinking alcohol and it’s believed he fell asleep or left the basement, allowing the flames to spread up the basement wall and into the attic, the marshal determined.

The fire caused significant damage to the roof but no injuries were reported.

Martini said the resident, who was intoxicated at the fire scene and unable to “competently” answer questions, will face charges. The man didn’t have insurance on the building and lived alone.

Troopers said Hazletonfirefighters responded and quickly extinguished the fire, preventing it from spreading to neighboring homes.

The fire was reported to Luzerne County911 around 7 p.m.A member of the fire department arrived and confirmed the house, which is between East Maple and East Oak streets, was burning.

Firefighters found “heavy smoke” in the neighborhood and saw the man living there walking out of the building when they arrived. The fire had already crept into the walls and weakened the roof by that time.

Firefighters had to dig into two ceilings to extinguish the fire, Fire Chief Donald Leshkosaid. He said the building, once a commercial property, was renovated, leaving voids above the first and second ceilings in the single-story home. The voids allowed the fire to spread from the basement to the roof, the chief said.

“It was a challenging fire because you have two void spaces before you get to the roof area,” Leshko said. The renovation work caused “extensive” overhaul duties for firefighters as they searched the roughly 3,000-square-foot building for fire to extinguish.

Despite the challenge, the chief said firefighters did “an amazing job.”

Hazle Twp. Fire and Rescueand McAdoofire assisted at the scene for Rapid Intervention Team duties, while West Hazletonstood by to assist Hazletonfirefighters with other emergency calls while they were at the fire. Lehigh Valley EMS responded as did Hazletonpolice and the American Red Cross.

Contact the writer: achristman@

standardspeaker.com; 570-501-3584

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