First Responders: On The Other Side Of Tragedy

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — The tragic fire in Pottsville that took the lives of six people was on the minds of first responders all over our area, including a police chief in Lackawanna County who was in the 911 center as the fire call came in at his own home.

“When we go to traumatic events like that, we’re not emotionally tied in. This is all of our own emotion, and it’s just a different perspective, shocking.”

In his career as a police officer, Don Hickey’s been to dozens of fires. But watching old friends pour water on his own burning home in Browndale was surreal.

The Roaring Brook Township police chief was at a training session at the Lackawanna County 911 Center when the call came in with his own address. He had just heard about the deadly fire in Pottsville, and initially, prepared himself for the worst.

“I was just informed of that tragic fire, and the first concern That i had was, ‘where are my children and my wife?’ Knowing that they’re OK, everything’s fine. But that other family, I couldn’t imagine that. Just losing some material things is devastating. I couldn’t imagine losing someone in your family,” said Chief Hickey.

Hickey’s children were at school and his wife was out doing laundry and though it took a few hours to get the fire out, no firefighters were hurt either.

“When it’s one of our own, shall we say, a big family, it does hurt. You don’t want to see anyone go through a devastating loss like this,” said Forest City Area EMT Steve Davis.

All Chief Hickey was able to salvage was a safe deposit box he had tucked away just in case something like this ever happened. Though he says the things in there are not as priceless as his family, that’s all that really matters. Everyone had their minds on the family in Pottsville that wasn’t as fortunate.

“It’s tough doing this kind of work, you know, loved ones lost. my heart goes out to them,” Davis added.

Chief hickey says he’s not sure where his family will stay for now, but they eventually plan to rebuild their home in Browndale.

Fire investigators haven’t yet said what they think caused the fire.

For complete Newswatch 16 coverage of this story, click here.

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