Deadly Fire Started By Lighter, Possible Dispatch Issues Investigated

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MOCANAQUA -- There is new information about a fire in Luzerne County that left one woman dead.

Officials at the 911 dispatch center said there may have been a dispatch error at the time of the call. Officials told Newswatch 16 this error around the time of the fire may lead to a personnel issue.

Right now, they aren't talking about what specifically happened.

We also learned that the fire was started by two kids playing with a lighter, according to state police.

On a rainy somber day, the home along Main Street in Mocanaqua is still charred, and people in town are still grieving.

It was Thursday morning when flames ripped through this home, killing Michelle Dzoch, 52, a woman many knew in the community.

"She would help anybody out any time. She just was a very, very wonderful person," said Barb Eckman.

Witnesses said Dzoch went back inside of the home after her daughter and two grandchildren made it out safe.

Friends often called her an angel, saying she loved to spend time with her family.

At the Polish Falcons nest down the road, Dzoch was a member for more than a decade. Members said they will miss her smiling face.

"It's a sad day, because she was a really nice person. There's not a soul I know that ever said anything wrong about her."

People like Richard Wright said Dzoch was a special woman, a woman, he's missing already.

"Michelle was wonderful, nice, sweet, kind, loved the grandkids. I knew Michelle really, really close and it's a big loss. It took another big chunk out of me," Wright said.

What makes things even more upsetting for Wright is the possibility that there may have been some confusion when the fire was called out to first responders.

Officials at the Comm Center told Newswatch 16 that they're looking into a possible error, but they can't comment on what may have happened.

"I don't know what to say about 911. New people maybe, I don't know. People are different in there, I don't know. There's no reason for that they should know the tones. They should know the stations."

The Luzerne County coroner says Dzoch died from carbon monoxide poisoning. He ruled her death as accidental.

As for the possible dispatch problem, we're told the Luzerne County Comm Center is continuing to investigate.

In a news release, a state police fire marshal said it was the children playing with the lighter that led to the fire.


  • mytwocents

    At no time should there be an 8 minute delay on initial dispatch….and yes I am speaking from experience, I was a dispatcher for many years. 30 seconds to route the call for dispatch, less than a minute to drop the tones for the initial dispatch is the procedure.

  • Franko

    People don’t realize that there are always dispatching delays. After you call 911, depending on your county, there is up to an 8 minute delay before 911 dispatches out the call – and that is normal procedure, then a fire company has 3 minutes to call in a response to the call (if they are a volunteer company), hen a second request goes out and a three minute wait, then a third and final request goes out and after those 3 minutes goes past, another station is paged out and the process starts all over again. It’s a shame that our 911 systems have such long delays built into them. now I don’t know if that had anything to do with this 911 issue they are talking about or not. I understand the delay with the volunteers because it’s not like they are just sitting around the station houses, they are at work or at home when these things happen, but the up to 8 minute dispatch delay from 911 is unacceptable.

  • Steph

    I cant believe she went back in?? Even if you dont have insurance this community always comes together to help. Never lose a life over materialistic things. Those grandkids will have a new tv but never a new grandma.

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