Flames ripped apart a home and a woman who was bedridden in the home wasn’t able to make it out even though several people tried to get in to save her. They said the flames were just too much.
The fire happened at a home on Montdale Road,right next door to a volunteer fire company in Lackawanna County, but Scott Township firefighters said the house was already full of flames by the time the 911 call came in.
There was little volunteers could do when they showed up minutes later.
There was a somber mood at that fire scene from the start. When Newswatch 16 arrived not long after the deadly fire began family members were already gathered in mourning and neighbors were in tears.
As loved ones showed up to the fire scene in Montdale the emotions were clearly overwhelming.
Family and friends of 66-year-oldJudith Curnow stood by, overlooking the scene as firefighters continued to douse flames, knowing they had lost a lot in this fire, a wife, mother and grandmother.
Witnesses said the flames were just too much for anyone to save her.
“As soon as we pulled up you could just see the flames bursting out of the house and it was very very emotional. I was just praying to God that the people got out safe,” said witness Karissa Tratthen.
Firefighters said there were two men working on a sewer project right next to the house when the fire happened. They tried to get into save the Curnow, as did a township worker passing by, but they said the flames were just too much.
“Every thing that this five foot nothing guy could do I did,” said township worker Buzz Frazier. He was crushed he couldn’t do more. He knew Curnow was inside, and knew she was mostly bed ridden, but just couldn’t get in. “Too hot, just too much smoke. The wind just played too much of a factor in it.”
There were many challenges to the fire; all the wind-fueled flames, live wires that were sparking in the front yard.
Neighbors, like Janet and Laverne Bishop, watched in horror.
“I couldn’t believe it when I seen it. Flames coming out the windows, out front was all black. I told her this is bad, I said,” said Laverne Bishop.
“You feel bad. It’s an awful way to have to die. She’d been sick a long time,” added Janet Bishop.
Among the neighbors in shock are the Scott Township volunteer firefighters themselves. Their station is right next door. They will have a constant reminder of the deadly fire that happened only 20 yards away.
“Every day you pull into the parking lot, yep, it is. It’s going to be tough, but we’ll deal with it. We still have to be here for the community,” said Scott Township Hose Company Fire Chief John Tratthen. “It’s a lot, it’s a lot. We’re bringing in some people to talk to to try and get past this. We come down this road a lot unfortunately, but we still have to serve our community, you know. Its our job. We have to do what we have to do, kind of hide the emotions for right now.”
The American Red Cross was bringing in grief counselors for the family of Judith Curnow.
A state police fire investigator is investigating to see what may have caused the devastating fire.
The Lackawanna County coroner said an autopsy for Curnow is scheduled for Wednesday morning.