WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — More than 100 people are forced from the place they called home after a deadly fire in Wilkes-Barre.
The fire broke out just before 2 a.m. Tuesday in Center City. The fire began on the third floor of what’s called Redington Hotel-Efficiencies. It’s part of the Genetti Hotel and Conference Center complex at Market Street and Pennsylvania Boulevard.
One life was lost here and Tuesday night, many others are in upheaval.
Unlike a fire less than a year ago at Redington Hotel-Efficiencies which chased dozens, the one that broke out here early Tuesday morning ended in tragedy.
“It’s devastating. It’s devastating. We lost one of our tenants. I just thank God that it was just one because the destruction that’s there, this could have been a lot worse,” Genetti Hospitality general manager Pam Palmer said.
67-year-old Larry Wilson died in the fire. The more than 100 others living in the six-story building had to evacuate.
“Somebody banged on my door and said ‘get the heck out now’,” victim Joanne Watson said.
It’s the second fire Watson has lived through at this complex. When she opened the door of her 4th-floor room, she realized this one was far worse.
“The hallway was just filled with this thick, dark smoke and I thought I’m not going to be able to get out you know because the emergency lights weren’t on, either. So I’m like feeling the wall then I finally got out,” Watson said.
She escaped down the stairs the way most of the others did, but four of them had to be rescued by aerial ladder crews. All of the evacuees needed help.
“We came in and assessed what the needs would be, got additional volunteer help in. We’re all volunteers and we did what we do,” American Red Cross Disaster Action Team Member Mark Greenberg said.
Some of the tenants have children, others have pets. They all need somewhere to stay. The American Red Cross was handling that for most of the evacuees who were getting a lift to free emergency lodging and receiving gift cards to buy immediate needs.
“I got to get me some clothes and get ready to get to work the next day. Start all over again. That’s all you got to do. You’ve got to keep going,” victim David Littles said.
Genetti’s opened up more than two dozen rooms at its adjoining Best Western Plus for some of the displaced tenants. Meantime, fire officials describe the damage as extensive, especially on the third floor, with significant water damage on the first three floors, and significant smoke damage throughout the entire building.
A city fire inspector, with the help of a state police fire marshal, is still looking for the cause. And the general manager told Eyewitness News it will be at least several days before any of the evacuees will be allowed back.