COAL TOWNSHIP - A Springfield home was destroyed by fire Thursday morning, displacing a family of five.

The roof above the rear porch at 1262 Chemung St. collapsed on top of three firemen while they worked to douse the flames. They were shaken up but suffered no serious injuries, and all three returned to their duties at the scene, according to Mike Timco, assistant fire chief of Coal Township Fire Department.

The fire was reported at 6:22 a.m. Flames spread throughout the entire first floor and into the second floor so quickly that firefighters were able only to execute an exterior attack.

"The entire first floor was fully involved. There were flames coming out the whole first floor and lapping up into the second floor," Timco said.

"It was too well involved, we didn't want to risk it," he said of choosing not to send firefighters into the home. "It burnt too well for too long prior to us getting there."

The cause and point of origin remain under investigation. Kevin Malukas, the township's deputy fire chief, said the cause doesn't appear suspicious. A state police fire marshal is expected to investigate at the scene this morning.

The home was a double home that has since been converted into a single. It is owned by Joe Bielski and his wife, Linda. They lived there with their three children, William, Kristine and Mariah. Both Timco and Malukas said they were unable to speak at length with the Bielskis since William suffered a burn on his hand and was taken for treatment.

All five were home at the time of the blaze, Malukas said.

Location an issue

The home's location presented challenges to firefighters. There is no alley behind it, and no access for fire apparatus at the home's rear. Also, aerial equipment could not be used.

The deck guns on the engines from the Maine and Brady fire companies were used to knock down the fire from the front. Hose was run to the sides and back.

The siding on neighboring 1268 Chemung St., also owned by the Bielskis, melted from the heat and the house was hosed down to protect it from sustaining further damage. That home is vacant and is under remodel.


Kevin Fisher of Brady Fire Company, Dan Fisher of Uniontown Fire Company and Andrew Hauer of Coal Township Rescue Squad were standing on the back porch of 1262 Chemung St. dousing flames with water when the collapse occurred.

"Thankfully there wasn't a lot of debris and we were able to get them out," Timco said.

Kevin Fisher was taken to Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital, Coal Township, for evaluation. Dan Fisher and Hauer were evaluated at the scene by ambulance personnel. All three returned to finish the job.

"We had a lot of help," Timco said of the efforts of all of the firefighters on scene. "The guys did a really good job."

The fire was brought under control within 30 minutes and fully extinguished in about two hours. The scene was cleared at 12:23 p.m.

Members from the entire Coal Township Fire Department responded to the scene: Brady, Maine, Fairview, East End, Uniontown and Forrest Hill fire companies and Coal Township Rescue. They were assisted by members of Shamokin's Independence and Rescue fire companies and the Shamokin Rescue Squad. AREA Services and Americus Ambulance, Sunbury, also responded. Kulpmont Fire Department and Atlas Fire Company were placed on standby.