Fire Wrecks Six Apartments

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HAZLETON -- Officials in Hazleton say an electrical problem sparked a fire that wrecked an apartment building over the weekend. It's having a definite effect on the victims, just weeks away from Christmas.

It's a day after fire wrecked six apartments at the corner of Cedar and Green streets in Hazleton.  There was a steady line of victims carrying personal items they were able to save, and Jose Felipe was in it.

"My apartment is pretty much ankle high in water, my bed, my TV, everything is ruined everything! I was ready to go do laundry and my laundry bag is all filled with water so I got to buy new clothes anyway," Felipe said.

Felipe's wife, Maricela Zamudio, said she and her husband will always remember the fire.

"One minute everything is normal and in one minute your whole life changes it's start over for everybody," she said. "Unfortunately, some people don't have the means to start over."

Noah Guzman said his cousin, a fire victim, was glad to save some important documents.

"He was really worried that his citizenship which is coming up soon, because he had to get his paperwork and that`s all that worried him he didn't care about anything else," Guzman said.

The fire chief said the blaze underscores the importance of his department and he hopes city officials are listening. City officials who are looking for ways to fill a $1.7 million budget deficit.

"You're always concerned. You know you hear some people say eliminate the fire department, I don't know how, after yesterday's incident and I can count countless years that I've been involved in the department, the system we have works," said Fire Chief Don Leshko.

For the occupants you might think this would put a damper on their Christmas. Some said the best Christmas present they could get is the fact that they're still alive.