Pa. Firefighters Not Far From Rescues

June 25, 2013
While firefighters ran to get their apparatus that was parked a short distance away, other firefighters ran to the building and managed to save four people that were inside.

June 24--A woman and three other people, including a 7-year-old girl, were taken to trauma centers with injuries they suffered when fire broke out in their home across from the McAdoo Fire Company Inc. headquarters Saturday night.

Firefighters, who were cleaning up after their block party, discovered the fire and their quick action may have saved lives.

McAdoo Fire Company Assistant Fire Chief Robert Leshko said it was just before 11:30 p.m. when firefighters noticed smoke pouring from a brick home at 25 S. Kennedy Drive, almost directly across from their fire station.

Leshko said while firefighters ran to get their apparatus that was parked a short distance away, other firefighters ran to the building and managed to save four people that were inside.

Firefighters pulled Lorraine Searfoss, 45, from a front second-floor window and a short time later other firefighters took Madison Arner, 7, from the back of the home.

Leshko said Madison Arner was in cardiac arrest when taken from the home and revived by firefighters outside. She was then taken to Hazleton General Hospital from where she was flown to the Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest burn unit and admitted in critical condition.

On Sunday, Leshko said he received reports indicating Arner had died. However, information received later from the Lehigh County Coroner Office said the girl remains in critical condition, according to Paul Hoffman, chief deputy coroner.

Lorraine Searfoss also had to be revived by being administered oxygen and was also taken to the Hazleton hospital and flown to the Lehigh Valley trauma center.

Two other people inside the home -- Dylan Danko, 21, and Savannah Searfoss, who turned 16 on Sunday -- were able to escape the home on their own, Leshko said. He said that Danko and Savannah Searfoss were also taken to Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest for treatment of lesser degrees of smoke-related injuries.

Leshko said it was a stroke of luck firefighters were at their station cleaning up and noticed the fire.

"I think that if we were not there we would have had fatalities," he said. "I called 911 to report the fire while our people began the rescue."

Leshko said a state police fire marshal was at the scene and determined the fire was not suspicious.

"We determined the fire was accidental in nature, caused by an electrical problem, " the assistant chief said.

Also living in the home at the time was Jerry Fisher Jr., also 45, boyfriend of Lorraine Searfoss. Fisher was not at home when flames broke out, Leshko said.

The fire also resulted in the deaths of two of the family's pet dogs and two cats, Leshko said.

McAdoo Fire Company Capt. Daniel Leshko helped get Lorraine Searfoss out of the building and said flames and heavy smoke was coming from the side windows of the building, inside a three-foot walkway that separated that building from another structure to the north.

"There was a lot of fire and smoke coming from the side and back," Daniel Leshko said. "This could have easily turned into a tragedy."

Daniel Leshko said the brick construction of the building kept heat, fire and smoke inside.

"This was the hottest (fire) I felt in a long time," he said.

Firefighters from Luzerne, Carbon and other Schuylkill County units were called to the scene to assist McAdoo volunteers.

Several firefighters were treated at a rehab station set up on the apron of the McAdoo Fire Company building. Those firefighters received water and oxygen to help them get over working not only with the intense heat of the fire but also the warm, humid conditions outside.

Although firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze in about 30 minutes, the fire continued to flare up in parts of the roof to the rear of the building. Also damaged was an adjoining building to the south that housed Double D Auction services.

Crews said that structure did not appear to sustained fire damage but did show some water and smoke damage.

McAdoo and Rush Township police, along with area fire police, assisted with shutting down Kennedy Drive, Route 309, through the duration of the fire.

Rapid Intervention Teams from both Mahanoy City and Tamaqua were on standby at the scene in the event a firefighter would become trapped or injured inside the building while battling the fire.

Robert Leshko credited firefighters from McAdoo and surrounding communities for their quick response and efforts in fighting the fire.

"This could have been a lot worse, this could have been a tragedy with several fatalities," he said.

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Copyright 2013 - The Citizens' Voice, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

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