Fire Wrecks Homes In Mahanoy City

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MAHANOY CITY -- It is a fear of many people living in neighborhoods filled with rowhomes in Schuylkill County: one fire leveling much of their block.

That's what happened this time in Mahanoy City.

Seven homes burned. Officials say the early Monday morning fire in Mahanoy City began near one of the homes. Fire Chief Randy Kalace said the cause of the fire is under investigation.

"I think you can rule out when there is no power it rules out that it was accidental, we're going to work through things here," Chief Kalace said.

The family who owns one of the homes is grateful to the firefighters. That's because they were able to save their house and they also credit firefighters with saving their lives.  With their air conditioners on they couldn't hear the blaze and with the way the wind was blowing they couldn't smell the fire.

Brittney Herbert, one of the occupants described what happened when her family was evacuated. 

"We really thought it was going to come onto our house, it was starting to gain some heat in the back and it was starting to move from place to place and we didn't think our house was going to be as damage free as it is," Herbert said.

Mahanoy City officials decided that what left presents a safety hazard and plan to demolish what's left.

Demolition contractor Brian Russell said it was important that he got a good look at the buildings his company will demolish.

"The stress loads have changed and we push in the wrong spot the remainder of the building will come down not the way we want," Russell said.

Paul Coombe of the Mahanoy Area Historical Society said 60 years ago, the block was vibrant.

"On the corner I remember Mickey Puk's bar room and either next door or the next door up was a bar called Nick Botox and I also remember a little store called Fogerty's store in the early 1950's and I remember going in there as a kid buying penny candy," Coombe said.

There's no word on what will happen to the empty lots once the buildings are demolished.