Dallas Township apartment building condemned after fire

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DALLAS TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Roughly two dozen people have quite a predicament tonight: what do they do after fire chased them from their apartments?

Eyewitness News first told you about the fire online and on-air last night in Luzerne County’s Back Mountain.

Well after firefighters were first called to Country Club Apartments near Dallas, they were back Thursday piercing through and peeling away parts of a smoldering roof.

“It becomes complicated, challenging for the firefighters to get into that,” Dallas Township Police Department Chief Doug Higgins said.

Challenging is certainly the word for crews who responded Wednesday evening shortly before 7 p.m. to the burning, 24-unit building. A state police fire marshal determined flames accidentally started in the kitchen inside one man’s apartment and didn’t take long to spread.

“The gentleman that lived in the apartment went outside and left his door open. And he went down the hallway both ways knocking on doors saying ‘hey fire, fire’. So, when that door is left open, according to the fire marshal, it sucked the fire out and it got into the hallway and went to the ceiling and it went kind of both ways down the hallway,” Chief Higgins said.

A woman who lives next door to where the flames started says she heard her neighbor scream “fire”. She ran over to help him. She had a fire extinguisher, but he told her it’s too late to put out the flames, to just get out of the building. So she grabbed what she could from her apartment and left.

That woman and some of her neighbors were too upset to appear on camera. The American Red Cross says it’s helping 21 adults with everything from food to temporary shelter.

“Pretty much all of their stuff is ruined,” Chief Higgins said.

But they all got out safely and so did their pets.

“Dogs, cats, ferrets, spiders,” Chief Higgins said.

As in 18 tarantulas. And some parrots, too. But if and when displaced tenants and their pets can return to the place they called home is anybody’s guess.

“To go back in, the building has to be fixed, re-inspected before they’re allowed back in and obviously that’s going to be quite some time,” Chief Higgins said.

The Red Cross says it will continue offering help to the fire victims for the next couple of days. It will also assist in connecting the displaced tenants with long-term recovery resources.

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