WEST PITTSTON– A fire marshal in Luzerne County is trying to determine what started flames that ripped apart a home on Sunday night. The house was also damaged by the historic flooding in 2011.
Flames tore through the home in West Pittston, a house that stood for 128 years on Exeter Avenue. It was a house that survived flood waters only 14 months ago, but the place was no match for the fire.
“I was an antique dealer for years and it’s all gone. It’s all gone,” said Joe Castellino from West Pittston.
For the second time in just over a year, Joe Castellino had to survey the damage at his home. This time, he feared he and his wife had lost everything, and they just finished a trying year recovering from the flood.
“It was exhausting, mentally more so than physically because you realized what you lose you know. It was so hard on us and my wife. And now this. Yeah, it’s totaled, it’s total devastation,” said Castellino.
A State Police Fire Marshal investigated the fire that Castellino said started somewhere on the back porch and car port.
He lost two cars in the flood, now lost two more.
He said he tried to put out the fire with an extinguisher, but the flames were just too much.
“I even got singed — my hair and face — and I was driven back into the house and we ran out the front door,” reported Castellino.
The flames were so intense on the back porch area that they spread to a neighboring home. Blue tarp covered some of the damage there, and that house too was damaged by last year’s flood.
“I just keep saying I can’t believe a flood and a fire. There are no words for that,” said Sheri Slusser from West Pittston.
Sheri Slusser’s husband is an assistant fire chief. She grew up with a father and other family members in the fire department.
Then, she found herself and kids fleeing a burning house. The flames charred an outside wall and spread smoke and water damage inside.
“Firefighting has been in my life for 37 years and no training I have been through could ever prepare you for it being your own house,” said Slusser.
The cause of this fire was still under investigation. Both families are out of their homes Monday night. The Slussers should be able to return.
The Castellinos must look for a new place to live.