A fire broke out at a home in Neskopeck, Pennsylvania, early Friday, killing seven adults and three children and terrifying a volunteer firefighter who arrived to fight the flames, officials said. A criminal investigation has been opened to clarify what happened.
The Pennsylvania State Police said in a news release that three of the children who died were five, six and seven years old, while seven adults ranged in age from their teens to a 79-year-old man. Firefighter Harold Baker of Nescopek Volunteer Fire Company said over the phone that his son, daughter, father-in-law, brother-in-law, brother-in-law, three grandchildren and two other relatives were among the 10 victims. He said there were also 13 dogs in the two-story house, but would not say whether he was aware of any survivors.
A criminal investigation has been opened to clarify the cause of the fire.
The fire at Neskopeck was reported after 2:30 pm. A victim was found dead inside a nuclear family home shortly after emergency services arrived. Two other victims were discovered later in the morning. Officials said some people managed to escape safely from the burning house.
Baker said the address initially given for the call was a neighborhood home, but when firefighters arrived they realized it was relatives. “When we turned a corner here on Davy Street, I knew immediately which house it was,” Baker told the Wilkes-Barre Citizen’s Voice newspaper.
“I was in the truck earlier, and when we stopped, the whole place was completely burnt. We tried to reach them. One of the victims, 19-year-old Dale Baker, was a firefighter who joined the company when he was 16, said fire company secretary Heidi Knorr.
Dale Baker’s parents are members of the fire service, and the family was “always ready to help anyone they could,” Knorr said. His mother was not among the dead listed by Harold Baker.
Nescopec is a small town on the Susquehanna River, about 20 miles southwest of Wilkes-Barre. The house was largely on a residential street of owner-occupied single family homes.
The house was in a family residential area
Mike Swank, who lives two doors down the street, said he was awake at the time and looked outside after hearing a loud bang. He noticed that the porch was “really going away” and went out using another neighbor’s hose to stop the flames from spreading into the garage.
“It was so loud and so smokey that you knew no one was going to get out there,” said Swank, who watched as sleuths waited until the bodies were found.