Sister quickly extinguishes blaze caused by gravy spill
SHAMOKIN TOWNSHIP - Marie Hirsch looked around the charred kitchen in the home of her younger sister, Lorraine Chicalo.
The cabinets were burned and soot covered dishes and glassware set up for a family meal.
"This will all have to be done over and repaired," said Hirsch, a member of the Sister Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary who is visiting her sister for Christmas. "But we are alive and OK. God is good."
Just a few hours earlier, Hirsch's quick action likely saved the house from complete ruin.
Chicalo was making gravy at her home, 1279 Old Reading Road, just a few hundred yards from Indian Hills Golf and Tennis Club, when the fire ignited. Fire crews were dispatched at 12:08 p.m.
"The gravy spilled and landed on the stove and just that quick, it shot up the wall," said Hirsch, 75.
She said she remembered seeing a fire extinguisher in the cellar.
"I hobbled down there with my bad back, got the extinguisher and shot it at the fire," she said. "I knocked down a good bit of it."
Hirsch discussed her reaction while her sister, who had been treated at the scene by members of the Elysburg Ambulance Squad, took her two dogs to Sunbury Animal Hospital, where they will be temporarily housed.
Extensive kitchen damage
Elysburg Assistant Fire Chief Robert Dluge said the fire was "pretty much out" when he arrived.
"There was a little bit of extension of the fire inside the kitchen cabinets, so we emptied them and extinguished it," he said.
Stonington Fire Chief Kerry Yordy said both women were examined by medical personnel at the scene, but were fine.
"Lorraine's hands are black from the soot, but everyone is OK," Hirsch confirmed.
Dluge said there was extensive damage in the kitchen and smoke damage throughout the rest of the residence.
Crews from Elysburg, Overlook, Stonington, Shamokin, Upper Augusta Township and Sunbury assisted. The blaze was out by approximately 12:30 p.m. and crews were called back in service by 1:30 p.m.
A busy week
Friday's incident was only one of several in the area this week.
On Christmas Day, a mobile home along Route 61 in Shamokin Township was destroyed by fire, displacing Paul Shingara and his girlfriend, Tammy Zelinskie, who escaped with just the clothes on their backs while flames ripped through the structure in the middle of the night.
"We were quiet for the past 45 days," Yordy said at Friday's fire scene. "And now this (Friday's fire) is the fifth incident call we've had since Christmas."
'God saved us'
Rescue workers said Hirsch most likely saved the house and prevented a catastrophe on Friday, but she took none of the credit.
"It wasn't me," she said. "God saved us."Harry Deitz/For The News-Item