SHICKSHINNY, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — It was the most devastating fire Luzerne County has seen in more than 20 years.
A house fire in Shickshinny killed four people on Wednesday. Monday night the community came together to remember the victims and support the survivors.
It’s a tragedy no one is equipped to deal with. A family of eight were inside the home on Furnace Street when it went up in flames early Wednesday morning. Only four of them escaped.
“It took 10 minutes for all of us up here to lose everything we love,” Michael Shoemaker said.
As the sun began to set on Monday, around 200 people congregated in the street along Susquehanna Warrior Trail in Shickshinny where they lit candles for the victims of the deadly fire: 15-year-old Michael Shoemaker Jr.,18-year-old Harley Jones, 40-year-old Georgette Shoemaker and 68-year-old Jean Jones
“We’re going to miss them. They were so important in our lives and they did a lot for the community and the people,” family friend Gregory Gardener said.
“It was very tragic, number one. But it was very frustrating at the same time because there was nothing we could do,” Berwick Fire Department Rescue Chief David Deitrich said.
“We just want to let them know that we’re here to support them in anything that they need,” City of Nanticoke Fire Department Chief Mark Boncal said.
Michael Shoemaker Sr., who survived the fire, was moved by the show of support.
“They’re up there saying ‘Wow, I can’t believe the people that came’,” Shoemaker said.
Shoemaker jumped out of a window with his younger son Riley, his brother-in-law and his stepson Gavin, who was just released from the hospital.
“Breathing better than I was when I got out of the fire,” Gavin said.
Shoemaker is still grappling with the loss of his beloved wife and son. His sister-in-law Joni lost her son and her mother in the fire.
“He was loved by so many people. My mom, she’s my hero,” Joni said.
Shoemaker is determined to hold on to the family he still has and rebuild in the community they’ve always called home.
“I’ve been with them a long time, these guys as a family and I don’t want it to fall apart now because of this tragedy. I want us to stick together…We kind of have to,” Shoemaker said.
People in the community are still raising money for remaining family members. You can learn about the GoFundMe’s and information on upcoming fundraisers.
The cause of the fire is undetermined, but believed to be accidental.