Luzerne County Neighborhood Shocked by Fatal Fire

HAZLE TOWNSHIP — Police still have some interviews to do over the next few days to determine exactly how Sunday night’s fire in Hazle Township started.

The coroner identifies the woman found dead in the home as Mary Louise Cook, 47.

Court records show that she had a history of starting fires.

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

The fire on North Church Street started around 8:30 p.m. Sunday 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,” Buchman said. “Everybody had their hands over their mouths. It was shocking. It happened really fast.”

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,” she said. “So my first instinct was to run upstairs and check on him (her child). 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.”

One neighbor told Newswatch 16 that the couple who lived there 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 said he was surprised to hear that the woman next door died.

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

The Luzerne County coroner has an autopsy scheduled for Cook for Tuesday morning.

State troopers say they plan to interview Anthony Gentle, the other victim sometime in the next few days.

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