Mahanoy City Fire Ruled Undetermined

By Andrew Forgotch |

Published 08/27 2014 05:29PM

Updated 08/27 2014 10:43PM

Update: State Police Fire Marshall Rules fire undetermined.

Mahanoy City, Schuylkill County - John Ulrich had to hold back tears while looking at his house on East Centre Street in Mahanoy City.

"It's just devastating," he said. "I lost everything! (I) didn't have a chance to put home owner's insurance on it."

Ulrich's home was one of eight homes that were damaged during a devastating fire Tuesday night. Ulrich told Eyewitness News that he was home when flames broke out, but he said he only found out about the fire when he got a text from a firefighter which told him to get out.

"When I went out back I (saw) the flames shooting out the wall," he exclaimed.

A total of 22 people were forced out of their homes.

Ulrich, who owns the home at 217 East Centre Street, lived in it with his wife and his sister's family which includes Amy Hettrick and their two children.

"The kids are in shock my brother-in-law is in shock," Hettrick said. "They've never experienced this before."

Two the homes that were damaged were unoccupied. Firefighters believe the blaze started behind one of them.

Tony Blackwell, an administrative assistant with the Mahanoy City Fire Department, said the unoccupied homes had a lot of debris in them and that made the job for firefighters tough.

"A couple of the buildings had a lot of stuff inside of them," Blackwell said. "It made advancing hose lines and an interior attack very difficult."

Investigators were back on scene Wednesday trying to figure out what happened, but as of early Wednesday evening they didn't release a cause of the fire.

Ulrich told Eyewitness News that everyone in his house is now staying in an apartment down the street. He said it was frustrating to look at the damage, but he feels fortunate that no one was hurt.

"(I) sunk a lot of money into it," he said about his home. "Now it's a complete loss."

Ulrich said that friends and neighbors have been very helpful since the time of the fire. He said they've been giving him everything from food to clothes.

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