Fire Forces About 90 People Out

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SCRANTON -- A morning fire at an apartment building in Scranton displaced about 90 people from their homes, for what is expected to be one of the coldest weeks of the year.

The fire happened at the United House Apartments in the 500 block of Pine Street in Scranton. The fire victims include the elderly, as well as people with physical and mental disabilities.

Fire alarms sounded at around 8 a.m. Sunday.

The Scranton fire chief said flames tore through the eighth floor of the building, destroying two apartments, and leaving the rest of the complex with heavy smoke and water damage.

Barbara Lamar is a resident. She said she was forced out by the flames, and had to leave her medication behind.

"My insulin is upstairs. I took my other medicine, but I need my insulin.  I can't eat until Iget it," said Lamar.

Lamar's daughter, Debrah Baughan of Tobyhanna, heard about the fire on Newswatch 16. That's when she made the trip to Scranton to check on her mother.

"So I turned to 16-2, and it was on the news, and I just missed the word 'Scranton.' Then they said 'Pine Street' and right away I started looking for my mom's number," said Baughan.

"I just know the alarms went off, and we had to get out," said Lamar.

Residents of United House Apartments waited in a nearby church to stay out of the cold as firefighters battled the blaze. EMS crews said at least three firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation and minor injuries.

The 90 residents that live there are now staying with friends and family members. The American Red Cross is helping those without family in the area.

"I think they're going to send me to a hotel for a couple days until they get other things straightened out," said Joseph Dembowski.

Officials in Scranton have not yet ruled on an exact cause of the fire. All they said is that the fire has been ruled accidental.

There is no word on how long those 90 fire victims will be out of their homes.