ATLAS — An overnight fire believed to have originated in a middle room in the basement of a structure at 524 W. Girard St. is being investigated as suspicious, according to Mount Carmel Township Fire Marshal Brian Hollenbush.
The two-alarm blaze began at 1:23 a.m. Wednesday and caused extensive damage to the two-story structure as well as an adjacent home at 526 W. Girard St. inhabited by 47-year-old Randy Merlo and his Cocker Spaniel, Oz. Merlo and his dog escaped injury and are staying with a friend in Atlas.
Although it is not clear whether anyone is currently living at 524 W. Girard St., the last known occupants were Darryl Walton and his brother-in-law, Andrew Reigel, both of Shamokin.
While working to extinguish the fire, Strong Fire Chief Tim Shincowich suffered injuries when a 5-inch supply line attached to the Strong engine blew off and struck his legs. He was transported to Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital for treatment.
The fire, which officials are calling incendiary in nature, remains under investigation.