Fire In Shickshinny Rips Vacant Homes

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Fire officials said a fire that raced through two vacant homes already ravaged by the September flood in Luzerne County is a case of arson.

Crews believe the fire started in the back of a home on Canal Street in Shickshinny after 9 p.m. Sunday.

The fire spread to another flood-damaged home that the officials tell us was being renovated. The homeowners tells Newswatch 16 they were about a month away from moving back into the home.

The house where the fire started was knocked off its foundation by the September flood and became one of those iconic symbols of the floods in Shickshinny.  Officials tell us the home had been vacant since a previous flood in 2006.

Investigators say the fire began in the rear of the house and quickly spread.

“We were home in bed, got the phone call and came on down and watched it burning.  Praying for the best of course until we could get in there and see,” said Pauline May.

Pauline May owns the home next door which also suffered considerable damage.

“I wish they would have had other things to do and I know how they devastated people.  It’s so stupid whether it was intentional just to set something up that nobody lived in,” added May.

May says her family was only about a month away from moving back in after the September floods destroyed this part of Shickshinny.  Now she says after the fire from the home next door affected their home, she doesn’t know when she will be able to move back in.

“All the wiring was redone from the flooding. Everything was ready to go. We had new meters, it was just some drywall work and paint. Nothing major,” said May.

The Shickshinny fire chief worries other empty flood damaged houses could be targets.

“Well there`s a lot of empty houses especially at the north end of the town.  Down our Canal Street and people were waiting to get a buy out to see what they can do. There are broken windows and open houses,” said Kevin Morris, the Shickshinny fire chief.

Witnesses reported seeing kids running from the scene, but investigators are still looking into that claim.