Four people, three of them children, died early Tuesday morning when fire raced through five row homes in Shenandoah. The dead included a 28-year-old woman, two ten year olds and a baby.
As the sad news rapidly spread through Shenandoah, the offerings of balloons, candles and flowers grew on East Coal Street, as people came to grieve for the young mother and three children killed in an early morning fire
“She was a good friend and she was a great mom,” said friend Angelina Velousky
The flames started around 6:30 a.m. and spread quickly through five row homes in Shenandoah.
Now, many in that part of Schuylkill County are mourning the loss of those who died.
Flames started in 117 East Coal Street and quickly spread to three other row homes. Officials said the fire started on the first floor of the home where all the victims died.
"We're hoping that they found a little spot that they could get to and they can find them but I
don't know," said friend Amy Sanchez.
Fire investigators discovered the bodies of Tiffany Sanchez, her 10-year- old son, Christian, and her two nephews, 10-year-old Damien Lopez and seven-month-old Aziah Hernandez. Sanchez's other son escaped the fire.
Neighbors and fire officials said eight-year-old Diego was
able to get out a second floor window and was able to be rescued.
"That's when I saw Diego, the little kids that's alive. He said, 'Help me, help me,'" said fire victim Stephanie Rodriguez, "and when they got him out I asked him, 'Where are your brothers?' and he said they are inside."
"I just hopes everybody prays for the family and that little boy Diego," said Rita Karlavage. She helped save him. "He was full of soot and I took him to the ambulance and he told me about his baby brother and his mother, but he broke the window and got out."
Stephanie Rodriguez was among the roughly dozen other people living in neighboring row homes, who were forced out by the flame.
She came back to see if there was anything left.
“I can’t find my cat but I got my dog out,” said Rodriguez. “And we got nothing, I came out with no pants on and everything and then my neighbor got us shirts because it was freezing this morning.”
That neighbor, Lisa Kepple, said others rushed in to help as well.
“I got them some clothes and everybody else just followed my lead,” said Kepple.
Three other families were able to escape, including Terry Karpovich. "I heard (a sound) and then boom! My whole wall moved! Right next to my bed, there is a radiator there and that even moved," recounted Karpovich.
Despite losing everything, Karpovich's thoughts turned to the Sanchez family and their losses.
The coroner's office said autopsies on the victims will be done Tuesday night.
Police said the blaze does not appear suspicious.