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Cause of Fire in Hazleton Still Under Investigation, 25 Displaced

HAZLETON, Pa. -- A Fourth of July Fire in Hazleton displaced 25 people.

Julio Citron is packing up his things and moving out of his home on Carlton Avenue in Hazleton. He is just one of 25 people displaced by a fire at two apartment homes on the street.

"I was at my friend house and I received a call from my sister that the house was burning down," Citron said.

Firefighters said the flames started around 11:30 p.m. They damaged two apartment houses.

"It was fully engulfed," Maureen Dougherty of Hazleton said. "It was horrible. Like I said, it looked like a war zone."

Neighbors tell Newswatch 16 they were concerned a fire would start because there were a lot of fireworks being set off that night.

"I just called police and complained about those big ones being shot off," Joanne Chesklock of Hazleton said. "I mean, you have to have clearance... City limits isn't the place for them."

Hazleton's fire chief said the cause of the fire is still under investigation, he couldn't say whether or not fireworks were to blame.

"We did have reports of fireworks in the area throughout the evening, throughout the entire city last night," Hazleton's Fire Chief Donald Leshko said.  "But, you know, again, the cause is undetermined and under investigation."

While he said the fire is still under investigation, he said the new state law making it easier to get more elaborate fireworks made this Fourth of July tough for him and his firefighters.

"The new state law that took effect really is not a friend to the fire department or the police department and (I) really urge legislators out there and right to Governor Wolf  -- they really gotta look at this law," Leshko said.

As for Citron, he plans to stay with family members until he can find a new place to live.

"I have my family over here, so we're going to support each other," Citron said.

Hazleton's fire chief said to contact him if anyone in the area has video from before the fire started to help determine the cause. While the state fireworks law changed this year, we did tell you last month that Hazleton requires a permit to set off fireworks in the city.

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