NESCOPECK, Pa. — Ten people, including three children, were killed in a fire Friday morning in northeastern Pennsylvania, and the blaze was especially tragic for a volunteer firefighter who was related to all of the victims.
“I couldn’t get in there to save them. That is the biggest thing that has been on me. I couldn’t get in there to save them,” Harold Baker, a firefighter with the Nescopeck Volunteer Fire Company, told WNEP-TV. “We pulled up and the whole place was fully involved. We tried to get in to them, but there was no way to get in to them,” Baker said.
The fire broke out at about 2:30 a.m. EDT at a home in Nescopeck in Luzerne County, located 20 miles southwest of Wilkes-Barre and about 120 miles northeast of Philadelphia.
The Nescopeck community is mourning tonight in the wake of a gut-wrenching tragedy. Ten people were killed in the early-morning fire Friday as first responders tried to get them out. https://t.co/xaL1VTTUGx— WNEP (@WNEP) August 6, 2022
Seven adults and three children were killed, the Pennsylvania State Police said in a news release. Baker’s son, daughter and three grandchildren were among the victims, according to The Associated Press.
State police said the children who died were 5, 6 and 7 years old.
“I also lost my son, my daughter, grandson, two other grandkids in there, my father-in-law, my brother-in-law, and my sister-in-law,” Baker, 57, told WNEP. “All lost.
“The kids that were there and my two kids were just visiting their aunt and uncle. Those were the ones who own the house. They were there visiting and going into the pool and all that.”
Baker told the The Citizens’ Voice of Wilkes-Barre that the original address of the reported fire was for a house next door.
But as the fire truck moved closer to the blaze, Baker realized it was his relatives’ home, The Washington Post reported.
“All I wanted to do was go in there and get to these people, my family. That’s all that I was thinking about, getting in to them,” Baker said in a phone interview with the AP.
Baker grabbed a hose and air pack and began pouring water on the fire. But after his chief realized whose house it was, fellow firefighters took Baker back to the firehouse, according to the AP.
According to Luzerne County District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce, it appeared that the fire broke out on the front porch of the home. Baker said 14 people were living in the home. Three people escaped, and one was away from the residence delivering newspapers, according to the news outlet.
“The information I have is that the fire started and progressed very quickly, making it very difficult to get out,” Sanguedolce told the AP.
“I heard this pop. Sounded like a gunshot,” Mike Swank, a neighbor who witnessed the fire, told WGAL-TV. “I looked out my one window there and I see the home across on the corner there, the porch was totally engulfed. I mean, it was just roaring.”
Baker’s son, 19-year-old Dale Baker, had followed both of his parents into the fire service, joining when he was 16.
“He said it all his life, he was just going to be like his dad,” Harold Baker told the AP.
A GoFundMe page was set up to help the family.
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