Fire victims thankful for support
BOYDTOWN - Whenever Antoinette Scicchitano and her boyfriend, John Schulein, left their Coal Township home, Schulein's 8-year-old Boxer usually headed to the master bedroom to lay on the bed.
He wasn't allowed there otherwise, Scicchitano said.
Unfortunately, that's where the beloved pet, Max, was found Friday. It didn't survive a fire that gutted all three stories of 49 N. Berry St.
The couple is planning a proper burial for Max.
Despite the losses he's suffered, Schulein said he is moved by the support he and Scicchitano have received.
"It's amazing all the people giving us donations. These are all donated clothes," he said, tugging on his shirt. "There's a lot of good people in this world."
They were fortunate enough to have three pet cats make it out alive. The cats were hiding in the basement and were saved after a window was busted open allowing them an escape.
A fire relief fund for Scicchitano and Schulein has been established at the Susquehanna Bank branch on Independence Street in downtown Shamokin.
Robert Wheary, a widower, lived alone at 53 N. Berry St., an adjoining house that was badly damaged in the fire. He lived at the home for approximately 40 years. Some of his belongings were recovered from the first floor, where damage was minimal compared to the upper levels of the home. He plans to move in with his daughter in Shamokin.
His son, Rob, a News-Item staff writer, grew up there and spent 29 years at the house. He discussed playing miniature golf in the backyard, improvising with a hole in the ground.
When he walked through the home's upper floors Friday, he said it was like walking through someplace else.
"It was surreal," he said.
"After covering (house fires) all these years," he said of reporting for the newspaper, "you get desensitized to it. Once it happens to you, it all comes back."