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Shamokin became the center of the region's news universe for a day this week with the arrest of a suspect in a Monday night arson fire.

TV crews from WNEP, WBRE and CCN, as well as representatives from WKOK radio and The Daily Item, visited Tuesday for the man's arraignment as well as a press conference called by city police.

We, of course, gave the arson story maximum coverage, too.

What's interesting to us, however, is how the regional media coverage was touched off by two non-suspicious fires earlier Monday, one in Kulpmont and one in Coal Township, which were followed by the suspicious Shamokin fire that topped off the day. Yet, it was two suspicious fires from last week that originally had our attention, and that of local residents.

Our coverage from the first two fires began at on Thursday and continued in the Friday and Saturday print editions. It detailed how two fires 15 hours and three blocks apart on Shamokin Street were in the same neighborhood as two fires from September. That's four suspicious fires; police were on high alert, and so were neighbors.

But it took the massive Kulpmont fire Monday morning and the fact that two others would happen the same day to attract attention from out-of-town media.

Regardless of the coverage, ours or anyone else's, we're thankful these fires - plus two others from Coal Township last Friday night and Rush Township on Saturday - did not result in any serious injuries.

A lighter note

Local volunteer firefighters received a lot of well-deserved praise for their long hours and sacrifices throughout the past week.

Staff photographer Larry Deklinski believes that was the reason behind someone leaving a note on his car at the scene of the Kulpmont fire. In his rush to get what turned out to be excellent photographs, he left his driver's side window part-way down, just before a snowstorm moved into the area. Someone went to the effort to hang a garbage bag over the opening and weigh it down with small pieces of 2-by-4. Also left behind on a thin piece of cardboard was a note: "Storm started really coming down, so I covered your window. Thank you for all you do!!"

Super Sunday frown

The Super Bowl isn't nearly as fun this year. No burgers, no bows, no "Hyno Hurdle."

We knew it was special last year when the area was represented by New York Giants fullback Henry Hynoski in the big game. As is the case in professional sports, repeating isn't easy, and, with that, Hyno and his teammates will be doing the same as everyone else this year - watching the Super Bowl on TV.

As Hynoski told Chuck Souders for a story in Friday's edition, "We're going to watch the game and probably frown the whole time but we'll try to have some fun."

(Andy Heintzelman, editor of The News-Item, writes "The Week In News" for each Saturday edition.)

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