Cleanup Continues After Forest City Fire

FOREST CITY -- A community in Susquehanna County is cleaning up after a weekend blaze that destroyed several buildings and businesses on one block.

A section of the 500 block of Main Street in Forest City was badly damaged by that fire that started around 2:30 a.m. Sunday. It tore through three buildings and damaged a neighboring funeral home.

People who lived on the second and third floors escaped without getting hurt. However, police say there were pets that died in the fire.

The inferno consumed three buildings in the middle of the night, leaving people who lived in the upstairs apartments with nothing.

A day later, the man who lived in a third-floor apartment is thankful no one was hurt.

"I heard people scream. I came out. Smoke cloud invaded me. Came in the house," said Nicola Iaffaldano.

In all, nine people escaped the flames including a husband and wife with their young child. That husband is being credited with getting his own family to safety then helping his neighbors get out.

"He got woken up by a dog and the smoke, got his family out, said, 'that's not enough. There's elderly people who live here,'" said Kristian Short, a relative of the fire victims.

Short works as a firefighter in Baltimore and says the man deserves credit for helping Short's mother and grandmother to safety.

"I get trained to do this and it's 2:30 in the morning. He's in his boxers, and he's a hero."

Not even 48 hours after fire reduced Ros-Al Floral in Forest City to rubble, the owners were busy turning a building on the other side of Main Street into the flower shop's new home.

"37 years, to throw it all away and say, 'OK, this is it,' doesn't settle this," said Christopher Glinton.

Ros-Al Floral was leveled by the fire. Officials say nine people who lived in upstairs apartments escaped the flames. One storefront was empty and the other was to be home to a martial arts studio.

The owners of Ros-Al were able to salvage only a sign and the will to re-open as soon as possible.

"I have friends here helping us, cleaning the acting company out now, pulling stuff downstairs. I've ordered flowers. Cooler is on its way, my supplies on the way. We've called our first bride. Her wedding is Sunday. She's here at 5:30. This isn't going to keep us down," said Glinton.

Not only did that fire destroy three buildings in close proximity to one another, but it also heavily damaged Lesjack Funeral Home. It's closed and not quite clear if it will have to be taken down as well.

Utility crews worked to repair cable and phone lines and now these scorched buildings have to wait for insurance to determine if they need to be torn down.

"This is a strong little town we live in," Glinton added.

Still, the owners of Ros-Al are convinced Forest City will come through this.

"Forest City will be back. We lost three of our buildings in town and staple in the community, but it will be back."

A state police fire marshal says the cause is still under investigation and that the fire started in a second-floor apartment.

Police expect this section of Main Street will be off limits if the remaining buildings need to be demolished.