Blaze kills firefighter’s 10 relatives, 3 of them children – Boston News, Weather, Sports

NESCOPECK, Pa. (AP) — The fire quickly ripped through a home in northeastern Pennsylvania early Friday, killing seven adults and three children and horrifying a volunteer firefighter who arrived to fight the blaze only to find the victims were his own were family, authorities said.

The three children who died were aged 5, 6 and 7, Pennsylvania State Police said in a news release, while the seven adults ranged from late teens to a 79-year-old man. Autopsies were scheduled for this weekend.

said Harold Baker, a firefighter with the Nescdeck Volunteer Fire Company, over the phone that the 10 victims included his son, daughter, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, three grandchildren and two other relatives. He said his two children and the other young victims visited their aunt and uncle’s home for summer activities, such as visiting a swimming pool.

He said 13 dogs were also in the two-story home, but didn’t say if he knew if any survived.

A preliminary investigation suggests the fire started around 2:30 a.m. on the porch, Lucerne District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said Friday night.

“The information I have is that the fire started and spread very quickly, making it very difficult to get out,” Sanguedolce said.

Three people were able to escape the fire, he said. Four state police firefighters are involved in the investigation and the case will not become a criminal investigation unless they determine the fire was set intentionally, he said.

The three young children who died did not live in the home, he confirmed.

“Not that certainly every situation is good, but that only makes the tragedy worse,” he said.

Nescdeck is a small town on the Susquehanna River about 20 miles southwest of Wilkes-Barre. The house was on a residential street with mostly owner-occupied single-family homes.

Baker said the address originally given for the call was a neighbor’s house, but that he realized it was his family members’ residence when the fire truck approached.

“When we turned the corner up here on Dewey (Street), I knew immediately which house it was just by looking down the street,” Baker said Citizens’ Voice newspaper from Wilkes-Barre. “I was on the first engine and when we pulled up the whole place was totally involved. We tried to get to them.”

One of the victims, 19-year-old Dale Baker, was a firefighter who joined the company when he was 16, said Heidi Knorr, the fire department secretary.

“He was such a fun-loving soul,” she said in a phone interview. “He just loved life.”

Both of Dale Baker’s parents are firefighters, and the family has “always been willing to help anyone who is in need,” Knorr said. Dale’s mother was not among the dead listed by Harold Baker.

Mike Swank, who lives two houses down the street, said he happened to be awake at the time and looked outside after hearing a sharp explosion. He saw that the porch was “really up and running” and went outside, using another neighbor’s hose to stop the fire from spreading to a garage.

“I saw two guys outside and they were in different states of hysteria,” Swank said in a phone interview.

One of them was on a cell phone, “and I’m trying to ask him if everyone’s out,” he said. “The other guy was out on the street just running around in circles.”

Swank said he couldn’t get any information from them. A fence prevented him from getting to the back of the property.

“It was so fast and so much smoke that you just knew nobody was going to make it,” Swank said. He saw cadaver dogs being used to search the crime scene until the bodies were found.

He said the family moved in under a hire-purchase agreement a few months ago.

He hadn’t met her, but noticed that they spent a lot of time on the crowded front porch of the house.

Baker, who was relieved of his firefighting duties because of his relationship with the victims, said 14 people lived in the home. One of them was delivering newspapers, while three others escaped, he said.

“The kids that were there and both of my kids were just visiting their aunt and uncle,” Baker said said WNEP. “They owned the house. They were there visiting and going in the pool and all that.”

(Copyright (c) 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed, or redistributed.)

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https://whdh.com/news/blaze-kills-firefighters-10-relatives-3-of-them-children/ Blaze kills firefighter’s 10 relatives, 3 of them children – Boston News, Weather, Sports

Nate Jones

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