10 family members die in house fire, investigation ongoing


Ten family members of a Pennsylvania firefighter died in an early morning house fire described as “intense” by a witness.

A criminal investigation is underway.

Volunteer Fire Company firefighter Harold Baker was on the first engine to arrive at his loved ones’ burning home shortly before 3 a.m. Monday. He thought he was going to a nearby address.

“When we turned the corner here on Dewey (St.), I immediately knew which house it was just by looking down the street,” Baker told The Associated Press.

The deadly fire occurred in the eastern borough of Nescopeck, less than 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Baker said the dead – three children and seven adults – included his son, daughter, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, three grandchildren and two other relatives. Her children spent the night in the house, which belongs to their aunt and uncle and has a swimming pool. The victims were between the ages of 5 and 79.

There were also a dozen dogs at the house, Baker said, but he couldn’t comment on their status.

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Time Leder, of Pennsylvania, said three people survived after fleeing the burning house at 733 1st St. Investigators based in Shickninny, Pennsylvania, have reportedly launched a “complex criminal investigation”.

Firefighters from two counties responded to the two-story house fire, which is beyond repair.

“I’ve never seen anything burn so intensely,” neighbor Bernie Snedeker told The Times Leader.

He said the flames reached the tops of surrounding trees.

Mike Swank, who lives across from the burned house, told the AP he saw two people standing outside the house “in various states of hysteria” as the tragedy unfolded. One of these men was on a cell phone and “the other guy was on the street and he was going around in circles.”

The Luzerne County Coroners Office joined with K-9 police patrols in their rescue and recovery efforts. Autopsies will be performed on Saturday.

With dispatch services

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