Blaze Rips Scranton Homes, Ruled Arson

A fire that ripped through three apartment houses in Scranton Tuesday night was not an accident. Investigators said it was intentionally set.

It’s the third fire in the city in just over a week.

This time flames forced 19 people out of their homes.

Police in Scranton said an arsonist is responsible for two fires Tuesday night, one that destroyed the apartment buildings and another much smaller one.

That arsonist is still on the loose.

Crews from the city finished tearing down two of the destroyed apartment houses at just about 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Just after 11 p.m. Tuesday, Scranton’s Weston Field neighborhood was aglow. Within minutes three apartment houses along Langstaff Place were up in flames, sending the nearly 20 people who lived there out on to the street.

“(I) didn’t have time, didn’t have time to think. (I) just got out,” said fire victim Nancy Lorber.

In the daylight, she got to see just how much damage there was to her home of 26 years, and she talked to fire investigators about what she saw and heard before the blaze started.

“I heard, ‘If you’re going to be like that f-you!’ and then it sounded like a beer bottle, and I got out of bed, which is the front room, came to the front door and realized that the whole next door porch was on fire,” Lorber recounted.

Scranton police fire marshals said the fire was definitely started by an arsonist who could have been provoked by a fight.

Scranton police fire marshals said the fire was definitely started by an arsonist who could have been provoked by a fight. A state police police dog was called in to confirm and sniff out any excellerants that could have been used. Police believe the arsonist started nearby on Albright Avenue, setting fire to a recycling bin on the porch of a house and then moved to Langstaff Place.

“In like 10, 15 minutes, all the three houses were on fire,” said neighbor Shazia David.

In all, 19 people were forced out of their homes, including four adults with special needs staying with Keystone City Residents in an assisted living home. The people there were asleep when the fire broke out.

“There were still lights on at the Keystone House, and it seemed like nobody was up so my husband went over there and knocked on the door,” David added.

Crews started tearing down two of the houses just hours later because they were afraid the buildings might collapse, finishing the work that the arsonist started.

“It sounded like they threw a bottle of gas or something, because it just went up,” Lorber said.

Police said they don’t know for sure how the arsonist set the fire, just that some kind of an excellerant was used. They do not have any suspects, but are following leads.

Police believe the arsonist started nearby on Albright Avenue, setting fire to a recycling bin on the porch of a house and then moved to Langstaff Place.

“In like 10, 15 minutes, all the three houses were on fire,” said neighbor Shazia David.

In all, 19 people were forced out of their homes, including four adults with special needs staying with Keystone City Residents in an assisted living home. The people there were asleep when the fire broke out.

“There were still lights on at the Keystone House, and it seemed like nobody was up so my husband went over there and knocked on the door,” David added.

Anyone with information about the arson is asked to call Scranton police.

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