Officials: No Working Smoke Alarms at Fatal Pa. Blaze

Sept. 24, 2013
The Saturday blaze in Dunmore killed three people, ages 20, 34 and 35.

Sept. 24--An apartment building ravaged by a blaze that killed three peoplepa: Saturday had no working smoke detectors, officials said.

Nicole Price, 34, Ashley Price, 20, and Joseph C. Fazio, 35, died in the fire at 113 Chestnut St. Lackawanna County Coroner Tim Rowland said the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation.

Attempts to determine the cause of the fire have been unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, in response to the deadly fire, Dunmore council President Salvatore Verrastro proposed at a meeting Monday narrowing the scope of regular fire inspections at multifamily buildings so inspectors can cover more homes. Firefighters would make examining smoke detectors and ensuring exits are clear a priority in inspections.

Borough Manager Vito Ruggiero also recommended training firefighters to ensure each shift has one responder with expertise in code enforcement so the borough can cover more ground.

Dunmore Fire Chief Chris DeNaples said the incident Saturday illustrates the importance of smoke detectors, with which borough council agreed.

Dunmore Patrolman Gene Ruddy smelled smoke at about 2 a.m. and sought out the source. When the officer saw the smoke and flames, he called 911 before entering the building and, with his partner, Patrolman Bill Bonavoglia, evacuating at least eight people.

"If Officer Ruddy had heard a ... fire alarm tone instead of smelling smoke and going around the neighborhood looking, it would have been a big difference," solicitor Thomas Cummings said. "They want to focus on the fire protection and public safety aspect of access and smoke alarms."

State police fire marshals might never determine what sparked the fire, which is not considered suspicious, said Trooper Connie Devens.

"They have to leave (the cause) as undetermined," Trooper Devens said. "They can't actually locate an ignition source."

The fire appears to have started on the second floor of the building, which houses five apartments and a business.

Recommended smoke detector layouts differ from building to building, Chief DeNaples said. A phone call to your local fire department can clear up any confusion about placement, he said.

Contact the writer: [email protected], @jkohutTT on Twitter

Copyright 2013 - The Times-Tribune, Scranton, Pa.

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