MOCANAQUA — The issue of whether the proper fire department was dispatched to a fire that turned out to be deadly in Luzerne County has two county dispatchers suspended without pay from their jobs.
The dispatchers put out the call last week for firefighters to respond to home in Mocanaqua.
There was chaos Thursday as crews battled a fire at the home on Main Street in Mocananqua. Crews put out the flames, but weren’t able to save the woman inside, Michelle Dzoch. Some wonder if she could have been saved had crews arrived earlier.
“Probably 10 minutes at least, it took me, and I did beat everybody here though. I did beat all the fire departments here,” said Syl Rutkoski,of Shickshinny.
Rutkoski owns B&S Distributors next door to the home. He says his son was at the store when the fire started. His son called 911 and then Syl, and Syl still beat fire crews to the scene.
“Especially with one being very close and the other one only across the river. I was a little shocked,” said Rutkoski.
Mocanaqua Volunteer Fire Chief Stephen McDaniels says once the county 911 Center put out the call, his crews arrived to the house in five minutes. He believes the delayed response was an issue with the county 911 Center.
“From what I understand, there was a fire department over towards the Hazleton way that was dispatched to an address in Conyngham Borough instead of Conyngham Township,” said Chief McDaniels.
Union officials tell Newswatch 16 two 911 dispatchers were suspended without pay and are awaiting a disciplinary hearing. County officials won’t comment because they say this is a personnel issue.
With the investigation underway, first responders and neighbors just wish someone could have gotten to the fire sooner.
“Maybe if somebody would have got there in the first couple minutes of it, maybe somebody could have prevented her from going back inside,” said McDaniels.
“When there’s houses on fire and people’s lives could be at stake, that’s not where mistakes should be made,” said Rukoski.
Officials are investigating exactly what happened on at the communication center on Thursday. No formal hearing date for the dispatchers has been set.