DALLAS TWP. – Firefighters in the Back Mountain area on Thursday confronted dual problems: frigid temperatures and fires that damaged homes in two Back Mountain municipalities.
Ice covered firefighters' gear as they fought a stubborn blaze at 32 Carr Ave. in Dallas Township.
Temperatures were in the single digits when firefighters responded to the house at about 7 a.m. for a malfunctioning light fixture in a second-floor ceiling. As flames spread throughout the house, other hose companies were called to assist.
I was on my way out the door and my pager went off, said Shavertown volunteer firefighter Devin Albrecht. Six of us were on the truck. When we got here, all four windows were blowing smoke.
Albrecht and his fellow firefighters used a chainsaw to cut a hole in the roof to vent heat and smoke.
Brianne Derhammer and her boyfriend, Brian Malkemes, escaped the house with their dogs. She said they awoke and found out the breaker box had tripped and a light fixture was sparking.
There is quite a bit of water damage on the first floor only because everything we're putting into the attic and second floor is just cascading down, said Shavertown Volunteer Fire Chief Gary Beisel.
No injuries were reported. Firefighters were unsuccessful in finding a pet cat in the house.
Luzerne County property records list the owner as Three Guys Dallas LLC.
Later on Thursday, an electrical fire at a residence at 100 Pinecrest Ave. in Dallas Borough was quickly extinguished.
Back Mountain Regional Fire Chief Harry Vivian said the fire began in a second-floor bedroom on one side of the duplex apartment building at approximately 1:40 p.m. Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze within 20 minutes of arrival, and were assisted in their efforts by crews from the Shavertown and Kunkle fire companies.
Vivian said the fire had an accidental cause.
The apartment, home to a family of four and several pets, sustained extensive fire, heat and smoke damage, and the family will not be able to return until the damage has been repaired and inspected, Vivian said. The Red Cross is assisting the family, he added.
Vivian said the building is a rental property. County property records list the owner as Yasiji Tareq of North Bergen, N.J.
The adjacent apartment was unaffected, Vivian said.
The fire on Pinecrest Avenue was the fourth in two days in the Back Mountain area.
On Wednesday, firefighters handled a sprinkler pipe burst that had short-circuited lights at a Weis Markets store. Also, crews from Harveys Lake and Kunkle were called to a house fire at 10 Hart Lane, Harveys Lake, where the homeowner, Robert Hart, 81, was found dead inside his home.
An autopsy Thursday revealed Hart died of natural causes.
Matt Hughes, a Times Leader staff writer, contributed to this report.