Windy Conditions Hamper Fire Fight

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EXETER TOWNSHIP -- A fire ripped through a home in Luzerne County, and the freezing temperatures and high winds did not help firefighters at all.

Bright orange flames ripped through the roof and melted the siding of a home on Sweitzer Road in Exeter Township.

Dozens of volunteer firefighters from Luzerne County, with the help of crews from Lackawanna and Wyoming counties struggled at times to douse the fire as bitterly cold wind gusts blew thick smoke in different directions.

"My daughter turned the television on when she came in from work and she heard it. She called us, she said mom, 'Laurie`s house is on fire.'" said Mary Kay Vitale, of Pittston Township.

Vitale and her family rushed to the house to see if they could help their friends.

Lisa Woodruff lives across the street and worried that the stiff wind could blow burning debris onto nearby homes.

"Absolutely a nervous wreck. I was going to throw up. I think I was just scared to death, worried, not only for our house but obviously for them as well," said Woodruff.

There are no fire hydrants in the community, so firefighters said they had no choice but to pump water from a pond a couple miles away, and truck it in.

"Very, very cold. With the water, it's making it even worse, but I mean we`re trucking our way through, and we`re doing our job the best of our ability," said Asst. Chief Brian Redmond of Mt. Zion Fire Company.

Redmond said the weather was a challenge, but some things inside the house might be salvageable.

Neighbors said they are grateful for the volunteers who answered the call in the cold.

"They`re special people. There is no doubt in my mind that they are a gift from God. Like you said, they are volunteer, and they`re here, and they`re there every day," said Woodruff.