UPDATE: Wilkes-Barre Apartment Building Fire

WILKES-BARRE — Investigators in Luzerne County are now calling a fire a case of arson.

A family was forced out of their home in the Heights section of Wilkes-Barre.

It took firefighters a few hours to put out the massive fire at an apartment building on the corner of Park Avenue and Dana Street.

The couple who lived there was convinced it had been se tand now investigators confirm their suspicions.

Cell phone video sent to Newswatch 16 by a viewer shows just how large the fire was when it broke out at around 9 a.m.

For hours, crews battled the fire that people were able to see from as far as the South Street bridge.

“I was shopping. i came down from the South Street bridge, and I saw all the smoke, So I went home and made sure everything’s okay in my place, and then I took a walk to Dana Street and saw what had happened,” recalled Leo DeLucco.

Melvin Hall, his wife, and their three children lived in the apartment upstairs. Only Melvin and his wife were home when the fire started. From the beginning, the couple was sure the fire was set.

“Two days ago, we sent our newborn to my mom’s house because of the gas we smelled. And our property owner was telling us just leave the windows open, sort of air out,” said Melvin Hall.

Hall said the gas company, U.G.I., checked it and said it smelled like gasoline, not natural gas.

There were other clues that this fire was arson.

“When she looked out the window, she said ‘somebody didn’t run that way. Somebody didn’t run that way.’ She said ‘somebody run in that direction.’”

Investigators say the downstairs apartment was vacant and that someone set the fire on that first floor.

The Red Cross is helping Melvin and his family. They weren’t able to save anything in the fire and don’t have renters insurance.

“I don’t feel as a fit father. I feel like I can’t, what do I tell my kids? I can’t do nothing for them now. I can’t provide for them right now.”

The Wilkes-Barre police department is also now looking into this fire searching for the person who set it.

Coming up tonight on Newswatch 16 at 11, we’ll have a special report about arsons and why they’re so difficult to solve.

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