ST. CLAIR, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — When a garage fire in St. Clair spread to a disabled man’s home, his neighbor made a split-second decision that saved his life. The neighbor says he didn’t hesitate, he just ran.
“If we would have waited for firefighters to respond, he wouldn’t be here,” Gerry Talamantes said.
Talamantes says he was in the right place at the right time when he saw the garage behind his neighbor on fire. it was Jay Lubish’s house down the street. He knew Lubish can’t walk and was still inside, so without hesitation he burst into the smoky house.
“It was full of smoke. He was sitting on this chair, this loveseat, sitting down on the phone with 911 operator he was trying to get somebody to get him out so we immediately said get off the phone. Grabbed him, got his walker and we literally drug him out of the house,” Talamantes said.
Firefighters arrived moments later. The fire had already spread throughout the house.
“A garage fire started and it spread to the surrounding properties,” Chief Frank Uhrin of the Saint Clair Fire Department said.
It started just after 4 p.m. in the garage at 306 Second Street. The garage belongs to Charlie Premich, who was coming back from a camping trip.
“Someone had seen a gentleman leaving the garage with his pants on fire and then the garage went up in flames,” Premich said.
Premich rents out the garage and adjoining house, where he previously lived for 20 years. He learned his tenant was having someone work on his car when the fire started. It damaged eight surrounding properties.
The fire was so intense it melted the siding off a house all the way across the street.
“My door was really hot when I went to get out the first time so I waited until it was out a little bit. I was watching out my window,” neighbor Mason Todak said.
Lubish’s house is severely damaged. He was taken to stay with relatives. EMS treated some people at the scene, but no one was seriously hurt.
“He’s alive, that’s all that matters,” Talamantes said.
Firefighters are working to restore power to the surrounding homes. The fried cable lines will be harder to repair.