Chief Calls Schuylkill County Fire ‘Suspicious’

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Investigators are still trying to figure out what caused a massive fire Friday night in Schuylkill County. The fire chief is calling the fire suspicious.

Crews were back on scene Saturday afternoon after flames destroyed a home near Minersville.

Russell Dalton took pictures showing massive flames shooting from a home along Route 901, also known as Sunbury Road, in Cass Township.

The blaze started just after 8:30 p.m. Friday.

Dalton was driving past when he noticed the flames. The Pottsville firefighter sprang into action and called 911.

"The first thing was just to assess, make sure the place was vacant and there was no entrapment. Other than that it was just making the call. Obviously with no proper gear, I couldn`t do much anyway," said Russell Dalton of Berry's Grove.

Hours later, firefighters were called back to the scene for insulation that was burning.

The fire chief said the fire is suspicious.

Witnesses said the flames appeared to have started in the rear of the home and spread quickly.

"It was literally minutes. It went from the back porch to up the whole side," added Dalton.

"The first thing I heard sounded like firecrackers going off, like pop, pop, pop, and in my mind, I thought, 'Don`t tell me they`re starting with fireworks already, it`s only March,' and then I heard them again, and I came out and looked and you could see the flames," said neighbor Laverne Scheib.

The homeowner is from the Harrisburg area. He said he was in the process of fixing the place up, but nobody had lived in the house for several years and there were no utilities hooked up.

Scheib said she spotted four people running from the woods near the home shortly after the fire started.

Officials searched the area but there is no word if that search turned up anything or if those people may have had anything to do with the fire.

"You know, it`s strange that it started in the back, and there`s no electricity in the house, so where would it come from?" added Scheib.

Fire officials said more than 50 firefighters were called in to battle the blaze and crews had it out in about 30 minutes.

A state police fire marshal is expected at the scene on Sunday to try to figure out what caused the fire.