Eric Frein in Custody

Luzerne County Man Hailed As Hero After Fire

MOCANAQUA — Fire investigators said Michelle Dzoch, 52, died after fire ripped through her home in Mocanaqua Thursday.

Her daughter and two young grandchildren escaped the blaze.

Jeffery Stewart of Luzerne said he was driving to a job when he saw smoke coming from the home on Main Street.

He’s a former volunteer firefighter, and instinct kicked in.

Stewart said he stopped, ran to the back of the home, saw a young boy and quickly took him to a business next door.

“I put him inside the store, tell them to call 911 and I go inside trying to call ‘anyone here, anyone here?’ and I found another boy. I quick grabbed him, took him outside with his brother and said, ‘Don’t you move, you stay with each other,'” said Stewart.

Stewart said he ran back, found the children’s mother and then tried to go back inside to help the grandmother, Michelle Dzoch.

At that point, he said a neighbor came to help.

“It just started getting too smoky, the ceiling on the second floor is starting to collapse around us, and the staircase was starting to go out from underneath us so we quick ran outside,” he said.

Stewart explained he and the neighbor rushed outside, got a ladder and tried to get to the woman from outside.

“As we tried climbing up the ladder, all the windows started bursting on us and before you knew it, maybe five minutes, the second floor is fully en-flamed.”

Soon after, Stewart said fire crews arrived and he left.

Kaitlyn Stewart said when she found out what her husband had done, she was not surprised.

“Yeah, I think he’s a little bit of a hero, but he’ll never admit it. Like he said, he’s always done things like that, and he just can’t stand by and watch,” she said.

Stewart said there were many people who stopped to try to help.

He said he is no hero, and what happened to Michelle Dzoch is hard to bear.

“Although I am very grateful the two children got out, they are safe and they will be able to grow up, I just feel awful that we couldn’t do anything for the grandmother,” said Stewart.

6 comments

  • Bleh

    Lets wait for the “wrongful death” lawsuit to settle before we call him a hero. this is MERICA after all. and Luzerne county. (sarcasim)

  • JP

    It is nice to see that there are still good people out there. Sometime we watch the news and get overwhelmed with the bad, but every once in a while good people are recognized for their efforts. I am glad he got some recognition whether he feels he deserves it or not. Thanks!!

    • lightwriter15

      Volunteer firemen don’t get paid, which is what Jeffrey Stewart was formerly according to the article. There are way more volunteer firemen than there are paid in the state of Pennsylvania. My husband and daughter are volunteer firemen. It’s just something they do for the betterment of the community. But yes, he is a true hero.

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