Fire destroys two Coal Township homes
BOYDTOWN - Firefighters were on the scene for nearly eight hours battling a blaze that damaged two homes along North Berry Street in Coal Township's east end.
The fire at 49 and 53 N. Berry St. was reported about 10 p.m. Wednesday and the scene wasn't cleared until 5:57 a.m. Thursday. It had been brought under control at about midnight.
No one was injured. Three residents are displaced.
Some good news was reported overnight: three cats belonging to Antoinette Scicchitano, of 49 N. Berry St., were discovered alive. Her dog, however, remained unaccounted for at last check. While firefighters battled the blaze, Scicchitano was unaware of the fate of all four pets.
A state police fire marshal is due at the scene this morning.
The fire, ironically, occurred on Fire Prevention Day, part of the national Fire Prevention Week.
Flames were still visible at 11:20 p.m. in the rear of the third-floor roof at 49 N. Berry St. Multiple master streams and a snorkel engine pulling water from the main line led to the call for tanker trucks to back up the water supply.
Engines from Brady and East End fire companies were stationed out front, and other units lined up along Tioga Street. The snorkel engine from Independence Fire Company was stationed to the homes' rear a short distance away on Hess Street, unable to get any closer because of the location of houses and backyard fences.
The house at 49 N. Berry St. was fully involved when firefighters arrived.
Flames spread throughout all three floors of the home and eventually to the third-floor roof of neighboring 53 N. Berry St.
The homes are located between Tioga Street and Pulaski Avenue near Rock Cut Road. Berry and Hess streets are each narrow roadways.
'Everything I own'
Robert Wheary, 73, father of News-Item staff writer Rob Wheary, was inside his home at 53 N. Berry St. when he heard noises from the front porch area. When he looked outside he said he saw smoke coming from the eaves of a roof. He tried calling Scicchitano's sister before dialing 911.
"What are you gonna do?" he said, reacting to comments made about his good spirits despite watching fire destroy his neighbor's home and spread to his own. "Forty-six years up in flames."
Wheary's home is insured, he said. So is Scicchitano's. She looked on from across the street while firefighters worked to knock down the flames spreading throughout her home.
Scicchitano wasn't home when the fire ignited. She was at her daughter Tiffany's home when she got a phone call that the house she shares with her boyfriend, John Schulein, was in flames.
"Everything I own is in there," she said.
She figured the fire burned for so long because of the amount of arts and crafts she had collected inside. She had plenty hanging around the house and was gathering supplies to make her own to sell. Also lost were childhood keepsakes from her children, all now grown up.
The snorkel engine had pulled around to Berry Street after 1 a.m. to blast water into the roof at Scicchitano's house and fully extinguish any hot spots. "That's where my single bed is up there, my crafts," she said. "I know right where he's at."
Responding were firefighters from Coal Township, Shamokin, Atlas, Mount Carmel, Kulpmont, Overlook, Elysburg, East Cameron Township and Trevorton. The Sunbury EMS Rehab unit also responded as did AREA Services.