Shamokin Apartments Gutted, Child Saves Family

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An early morning fire in Northumberland County forced 13 people out of their apartments.

The blaze on East Sunbury Street was stubborn. It started in one building and spread to a second. In all, seven apartments were damaged or destroyed and 13 people will have to find new places to live.

Aaron Shafer, said his daughter saved the lives of his family.

"My daughter came to my door and she said she smelled smoke and there was smoke bellowing in our doorway and she was crying hysterically trying to get my fiancée and myself up," Aaron Shafer said.

"We scooped up my daughter and my nephew and we ran down the stairs with her and I ran back in side and then I went back inside to get our cats, and I just barely made it out," added Shafer. He believes his family is lucky to be alive. "We were shaken up trying to get out as fast as we could and all these thoughts are racing through our minds, are we going to be okay? Will I get out alive."

Nine-year-old Telayshia Shafer will have an adventure to share with her classmates.

"It was scary because the smoke stunk really bad and we couldn't breathe and when we got outside our living room went up in flames and everything it was scary," Shafer said.

Officials said because of the time of the fire, people were asleep and this could have turned out much worse. Police Officer Ray Sitko agreed.

"Absolutely. With the time the alarm came in, normally people are sleeping, absolutely, with the time the alarm came in this could have been much worse than it is," Patrolman Sitko said.

Officials say the fire started when someone left cooking unattended on a stove.  Thirteen people were forced out but are safe.

The Shafer family said they are alive thanks to the quick action of Telayshia.

Police were first on the scene.

"I know both officers are also EMTs and firefighters and did a search prior to the arrival of the fire department because there was reports at first that there were people trapped in the apartment building," said Siko.

Police officers said firefighters did a great job at stopping the fire where they did.    

The blaze has some neighbors changing their habits.

"There will be no more smoking in my house and no more candle burning. Definitely. That's some scary stuff with my daughter. I am not willing to lose my house," said neighbor Jackie Rupert.

Most of the 13 fire victims lost everything. They are being helped by the American Red Cross.