NORWEGIAN TOWNSHIP, SCHUYLKILL COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Charred homes, a dramatic rescue, beloved pets gone. And state police say it all could have been prevented.
Crews spent hours fighting a massive fire in Schuylkill County Wednesday afternoon that law enforcement says was no accident. And it could have turned deadly if it weren’t for a neighbor stepping in to help.
Eyewitness News was told the fire started in one building and spread to the building next door. Both structures are destroyed. The cause is under investigation. Wednesday afternoon, crews battled a fire on the 300 block of Main Street in Norwegian Township, Schuylkill County.
Pottsville fire chief James Misstishin says the initial call came in as entrapment. Cody McMullin was in his home across the street when the fire started.
“We heard somebody yelling ‘help’,” McMullin said.
He saw his neighbor’s house on fire, and a man trapped on the roof. He rushed to help while his wife called 911.
“So I end up going to get my extension ladder and we came down here to get him off the roof. By the time I got down there and got the extension ladder all hooked up, all four of the houses were already lit up on fire,” McMullin said.
McMullin got the man down to safety and checked the house next door to make sure no one was home. Moments later, multiple Schuylkill County fire departments arrived on scene. Wind blew flames into the next home and burned the Seltzer Hose Company building.
“The wind was blowing pretty hard from the west to the east. We got the next two buildings involved we had water issues here with the hydrant. Water company came and helped us out a little bit,” Misstishin said.
It took two hours to get the fire under control. The man who was rescued from the roof lost his two dogs in the fire.
Multiple eyewitnesses tell Eyewitness News another man was taken away in handcuffs at the scene. PSP Schuylkill Haven is investigating the fire as an arson.
Firefighters are keeping an eye on the structures for any hotspots overnight.