Family tries to salvage mementos after deadly Shamokin fire; no cause determined yet
SHAMOKIN - Ed Kryzykwa is thankful for the emergency responders who fought the fire that consumed 1-9 S. Rock St. Tuesday and took the life of a 13-year-old girl.
After the flames were extinguished, Kryzykwa, 63, of Vicksburg, was joined by firefighters, police officers, members of the community and Red Cross personnel in entering his childhood home at 7 N. Rock St. and salvaging countless framed photographs off the walls.
"This is a horrible event, but the fact that everyone who came together - it was just plain beautiful," he said outside the charred home Wednesday afternoon. "We don't know all their names, so all we can do is thank them in general."
His mother, Mary Kryzykwa, 84, who has lived at the home for 60 years, escaped the blaze uninjured Tuesday, but the home was destroyed by fire, smoke and water.
"It's gone," Ed Kryzykwa said. "It's hard to see her going through this. She can always find a place to live, but this has been her place for so long."
Their house looked like a waterfall Tuesday while firefighters battled the fire. By the time Kryzykwa was finished inside the house Wednesday, he was cold and soaked, he said.
He and nephew Matthew Smith inspected the inside of the house to determine what could be retrieved from among the ashes, shattered glass and broken boards.
The carpet was damp and ceiling tiles were crushed on the living room floor. The second floor sagged and holes could be seen in the walls throughout the house.
Upstairs in the main bedroom, discolored icicles hung from the ceiling fan while blackened photographs lay scattered on the bed.
"The furniture is gone, the clothing is gone. I think we can get a few more of (Mom's) mementos," Kryzykwa said.
Large holes in the walls provided a view into the neighboring home at 5 S. Rock St.
Shamokin Chief of Police Edward Griffiths confirmed Wednesday that the fire, which was reported shortly before 11 a.m., started in a second-floor bedroom at 5 S. Rock St. The blaze claimed the life of Melissa "Missy" Pangburn, a seventh-grade honor roll student at Shamokin Area Middle/High School. Pangburn, who died from carbon monoxide poisoning, was found in her attic bedroom on the third floor.
Other inhabitants of 5 S. Rock St. include Pangburn's mother, Barbara Wiley, 38; her 16-year-old son, Jonathan Wiley; Barbara Wiley's boyfriend, Joseph Vecchio, 30, and their 9-month-old daughter, Meadow Vecchio.
He said the fire victims at 5 S. Rock St. and others left homeless in the row house blaze are reportedly living with relatives or friends. Griffiths said authorities have not yet determined if the victims and owners of the properties are insured.
Griffiths and city fire investigator and patrolman Raymond Siko II said the fire is not suspicious.
"We still have interviews to conduct with the family at 5 S. Rock St. and we need to thoroughly examine the scene before determining a cause," the chief said. "We know where the fire started, but we aren't certain what caused it."
Griffiths said two state police fire marshals assisted Siko in inspecting the fire-ravaged homes Tuesday.
The three-alarm Tuesday morning fire, which destroyed five homes in all, is still being investigated by Siko, a city patrolman and the city's fire investigator, and Kirk Renn, a state police fire marshal.
There's no way to know whether Pangburn was aware of the fire before she died, authorities said.
All five homes were condemned by Rick Bozza, code enforcement officer.
Joan and Mike Muskey resided at 1 S. Rock St., and Joan Muskey also owns 3 S. Rock St., according to city and county records. Deeds to both properties are in both her name and that of her late husband, John Mrowka.
Bernie and Jan Nestico, of Kulpmont, own 5 S. Rock St., which they rent to Wiley and Decchio.
Keith Tamborelli, of Kulpmont, owns 9 S. Rock St., which was occupied.