EAST BRUNSWICK TOWNSHIP — Tragedy has struck just a day after Thanksgiving after a house fire in Schuylkill County left the homeowner dead.
Fire investigators said an early morning fire near New Ringgold took the life of Kenneth Gernert, 74 and his home was gutted and scorched.
Fire investigators said the fire broke out around just before 2 a.m., killing Gernert, known as Kenny.
Gernert`s son-in-law and Gernert`s daughter live in the home behind Gernert`s.
Luis Melendez said he tried to save his father-in-law.
“I run down and the corner`s lit up, I tried getting in there,” said Melendez. “I kicked the door in, tried to get, I crawled underneath but the smoke was just so intense, I just had to turn around and come back out.”
Other neighbors woke to see the fire and also tried to help.
“My husband ran out and he tried to go in the front door but the flames were that bad, he couldn`t get in,” said Cynthia Dabashinsky.
“My uncle, he lives down the street,” said Victoria Anderson. “He was trying to open the door, he couldn`t get in the door, he tried to open the window, then they smashed in the window and it just got instantly worse.”
After all that panic and commotion, there was silence and grief.
Neighbors said it is a very close-knit community, with a little more than a dozen homes. They said in light of the tragedy, they will come together, to support and comfort the family Kenny leaves behind.
“Oh yes, yes, in this community, everybody hangs together, if we have cookouts everybody`s in the same yard, whatever,” said Dabashinsky.
A state police marshal said the fire started around a wood stove in a sun room and has ruled the fire accidental.
For Kenny`s family having to deal with the heartbreak just a day after Thanksgiving is a hard burden to bear.
“Everybody loved him, everybody loved him. It`s just sad to see him go,” said Melendez.
The family said Kenny`s dog and cat also died in the blaze.