SHENANDOAH — There is so much damage that investigators in Schuylkill County say they may never know what caused a weekend fire that damaged nearly a dozen homes in Shenandoah.
One official estimates that it will cost more than $500,000 to rebuild the corner that was wrecked by the fire. In total, 11 properties were damaged, but the cause remains a mystery.
The wall of fire that tore through West Coal Street and Jardin Street in Shenandoah early Saturday morning caused so much destruction, state police have stopped trying to figure out how it started.
While the investigation is over, the community is just beginning to come to terms with what was lost.
We met Schuylkill County assessor Stephen Zucal as he tried to total up the damage.
“When I can see the sky through the windows I know the properties were totaled. Once the roofs are off the properties, we know there was significant water damage and the values of the homes are completely obliterated,” he said.
Zucal said that while some of the properties were not in good condition, the green brick house on the corner was renovated and would have stopped a less powerful fire.
Two properties were owned by John Halford. He showed us what happened to the building where his three tenants lived. You can see through the wall the path the fire took. Halford thought that since it started on Coal Street, his house would be ok, but to fight the flames, firefighters had to tear the wall down
The Red Cross was at the scene of the fire and continues to help six families, providing food and clothing and even counseling with the aid of volunteers.
“Whether you can spend an hour a month, an hour a year, we can always use your assistance,” said Janet Curtis of the Schuylkill County Red Cross.
Religious organizations are pitching in as well. Sister Marietta is working to reach immigrants displaced by the fire who may be afraid to ask for help.
Jonathan Dixon lives right across Jardin Street. He is confident the community will continue to care.
“Every fire, we try to come together to help them out.”
One woman who jumped out of a third floor window was still in the hospital being treated for serious injuries, according to authorities.
The fire marshal says all of the victims are staying with friends and relatives.