Fatal Fire In Pittston

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PITTSTON -- Officials have released the name of the person killed in an early morning fire in Luzerne County.

The Luzerne County coroner has identified the fire victim as Bernard Edwards, 55.

Flames broke out around 1 a.m. Wednesday in the 100 block of South Main Street in Pittston.

Emergency crews were outside the building where the three-story apartment building caught fire.  Flashing emergency lights got the attention of many living nearby.

“We came out here and realized it was our neighbors place,” said Jack Elliot. “We were concerned. A lot of kids live up there. They all got out, except for Bernie downstairs.”

Bernie is Bernard Edwards, a 55-year-old, disabled man who did not survive the fire. 

As for the eleven people who made it out, it’s unclear when they’re going to be able to return to the apartment building.  Nearly every window in the place was busted out as firefighters tried to get a handle on the flames.  We do know the American Red Cross has stepped in to help all fire victims.

As for the man who died in the blaze, neighbors said Bernie or Red as many knew him because of his hair, had been through a rough spot over the past several months.  The victim had only one leg until a recent surgery.

“He had to go back in. He lost the other leg. You know how that goes.  It doesn’t sit well with anybody. He had it rough,” Elliot added.  “He might be in a better place now, hopefully.”

According to crews on scene, a man living on the first floor of the building did not make it out when fire sparked.

Eleven other people living in the apartment building made it out safely. They are being helped by Red Cross volunteers.

Two state police fire marshals were on the scene overnight and tell Newswatch 16 they do not believe the fire is suspicious.  Investigators think flames started on the first floor but they're still trying figuring out how.

The landlord of this property says he recently installed new smoke alarms.  Pittston's assistant fire chief added that his firefighters did hear them going off while battling the blaze. 

As for the fire fight itself, crews said that wasn't the only thing they had to worry about.

"There was a lot of fire that we confronted when we first got here,” said Assistant Chief Frank Roman with Pittston fire department. Second of all, (was) the heat and the humidity during the night itself. We had guys there, gear on. It was very warm.  So we called in two other departments for some extra manpower.  We even called in an ambulance for liquid refreshments.”