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Fatal Fire Near Hazleton








HAZLE TOWNSHIP — A fire at a home near Hazleton is being called arson. A woman’s body was found inside, and a man who lived there is in the hospital being treated for burns.


It was eerily quiet outside this burned home in Hazle Township, just hours after police say a fire was set inside.


The fire on North Church Street started around 8:30 at night with Anthony Gentle and Mary Louise Cook inside. Gentle was taken to the hospital with burns. The bodies of Cook and the couple’s dog were found in the home.


Ashlee Buchman lives down the street and says neighbors ran outside to see what happened.


“They were in disbelief. Everybody had their hands over their mouths. It was shocking. It happened really fast,” said neighbor Ashlee Buchman.


North Church Street was blocked for a while as crews battled the fire. Buchman also says she lost power. She said she was nervous because she thought the fire trucks were coming to her house.


“I saw a fire truck barrel into my driveway and all I’m thinking was ‘Oh my God, my house is on fire.’ So my first instinct was to run upstairs and check on him. He was in his crib, and that’s when I happened to look out the window, and I just saw lots of smoke, lots of smoke, lots of smoke,” said Buchman.


One neighbor who didn’t want to speak with Newswatch 16 on camera told us that the couple who lived here fought frequently and that one time, one of them even set the recliner on fire in the middle of an argument.


According to court records, Mary Louise Cook was once charged with dangerous burning.


Investigators believe this fire started in the kitchen.


Nick Cottone owns the diner next door. He says he was surprised to hear that the woman next door died.


“Sad. What am i thinking? I hate to see stuff like this or hear about stuff like this. Yep, it’s sad,” said Cottone, who owns Breakfast World.


The Luzerne County Coroner has an autopsy scheduled for cook for tomorrow morning. State troopers say they plan to interview Anthony Gentle, the other victim, sometime in the next few days.



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