Community Mourns Fire Victim

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A state police fire marshal was back on the scene Monday of a deadly fire in Lackawanna County.

A man died in the fire early Sunday morning near Moscow.

Friends are grieving the loss because the victim meant so much to the community.

Alyce Bernatovich stopped by the Woodlands Stables in Covington Township Monday morning to take it all in. The charred remains of Bob and Carol Hemphill's house were still smoking.

The couple operated the stables outside Moscow that served dozens of local people like Bernatovich.

"It's terrible. When I got the call about it I just couldn't stop saying, 'Oh my God'" Bernatovich said.

Many of the Hemphill's employees and patrons were at a loss for words a day after the devastating fire that trapped 69-year-old Bob Hemphill inside.

Firefighters said Sunday that the fire had been burning for about an hour before it was called in. By the time crews arrived it was too late to save Hemphill.

"He used to love to ride his bike and he was very friendly to everybody. He didn't have an unkind word to say about anybody," Bernatovich added.

Hemphill's friends gathered at the VFW post nearby in Daleville after hearing the news. He was a veteran and former post commander there.

"We found out there was a fire and someone had died, and when we found out it was him it was heartbreaking to know that," said VFW Post Commander John Croom.

Friends said Bob Hemphill's death will leave a serious hole in the Covington Township community. He was a volunteer and a decorated war hero, earning the silver star and four bronze stars in the Vietnam War.

"I'm a Vietnam veteran myself and I know what the war was like, and he went through hell," said Croom.

"I'd say he was very, very happy with his life, and he'd done what he wanted to," added another VFW member Dean Bedsworth.

State police fire marshals are still investigating the cause of the tragic fire in Lackawanna County.