Deadly Fire Leaves Neighbors in Shock

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CASS TOWNSHIP -- Flames ripped through a home in Schuylkill County overnight leaving one man dead.

By the time firefighters got to the scene on South Maple Avenue near Minersville, there was little they could do for the man trapped inside.

Flames shot from the window and thick smoke came from the double-block home around 3 a.m.

Investigators in Schuylkill County said the man living on the left side of the home escaped with his life thanks to smoke alarms that woke him up before it was too late.

The blaze was so intense that firefighters were unable to save his neighbor, 65-year-old Richard Dermo. Officials could not find any smoke alarms in his home.

"We woke up to a house filled with smoke and there was already a fire truck here, it was total chaos from there on out," said neighbor Linda Sterner.

Some 12 hours after the deadly fire, neighbors were still shaken seeing the neighborhood fill with smoke and finally learning that Dermo did not survive.

Those same neighbors said Dermo kept to himself and was homebound.

"Pretty close to home. It's hard for the family to hear someone died in the fire, couldn't get him out. But it's good the neighbors got out, didn't get hurt," said neighbor Christine Rose.

Now there's only charred damage where the home's address was. A man is dead and another man is alive, perhaps thanks to smoke alarms that did their job.

"What's going to happen to him, too. No place to live either, one big tragedy all around," Sterner said.

A state police fire marshal is looking into what caused the deadly fire.

An autopsy on the victim was scheduled for late Sunday afternoon.