PA Firefighter among Three Injured in 'Very Difficult Fire'

May 4, 2021
A Scranton firefighter fell trying to enter the second floor of a burning residential building, and crews were forced to attack the fire from outside as flames partially collapsed the roof.

SCRANTON, PA—A Scranton firefighter and two residents were injured Monday as crews worked to extinguish a smoky blaze in the city's West Side that left nine people without a home.

About 10:28 a.m., firefighters were called to 416-418 19th Ave. for reports of smoke and fire. Firefighters had the blaze under control an hour later, though Assistant Fire Chief Jim Floryshak said one firefighter was transported to an area hospital. He did not release further details on the firefighter's injury.

Scranton Fire Chief John Judge said later the firefighter, who he declined to identify Monday, was evaluated at the hospital and released. That firefighter fell while trying to enter the second floor of the burning building. Two residents, whose names were also unavailable Monday, were checked out for smoke inhalation and burns, though Judge said their injuries were not life-threatening.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but authorities believed it started in a bedroom on the building's second floor, Judge said.

Floryshak said the fire on the second floor already appeared to have spread to the building's third floor by the time they arrived. Crews rushed in to attack the blaze from the interior of the building, but the perilous conditions forced them to evacuate and quell the flames from the outside. Heavy fire damage was apparent throughout the building, which housed two families. Part of the roof collapsed.

"This was a very difficult fire," Floryshak said, praising the department's efforts to bring it under control. "Unfortunately, it was ahead of us and the risks that we were taking, they were too high. ... So that's why we had to pull everybody out and go defensive."

One of the residents, Janice Albizu, 22, awoke in her apartment in 416 19th Ave. just as the fire seemed to spread.

"I head a lot of screaming next door," she said.

Then smoke started coming through the cracks in the doors. After she escaped, she sat on the sidewalk across the street as crews worked to extinguish the fire and wondered about what comes next for her. She had just moved there within the last few months.

The Red Cross was assisting two families, including six adults and three children, according to spokeswoman Lisa Landis.

The fire Monday was also the first day on the job for a new hire at the Scranton Fire Department. Firefighter Kyle Saldonis, 27, had been sitting at the kitchen table in the department's headquarters going over some of his new responsibilities when the alarm sounded. This was what he had trained for.

"I went right to it," Saldonis said.


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