COAL TOWNSHIP — A fire at an apartment building at 1051 W. Pine St. on Wednesday afternoon left four people homeless and resulted in a minor injury to a firefighter.

Coal Township Assistant Fire Chief Mike Timco, who had command at the scene, said the 1 p.m. fire damaged three apartments. He said the blaze started in the kitchen area of Apartment B at the rear of the three-story building.

He said State Police Fire Marshal Kirk Renn is expected to inspect the building at 8 a.m. today in hopes of determining a cause.

Timco said nobody was in the structure when the fire broke out.

He said the property is owned by Dorothy and Clifford Johnson, who are insured.

Timco said James McKnight, 56, and Christopher Sallaway, 25, reside in Apt. A. He said McKnight and Sallaway, who are not insured, were not displaced by the fire because their apartment only sustained smoke damage.

Left homeless were Apt. B residents Derek Reich, 20, Annabelle Reich, 22, and Ariel Reich, 1; and Willard Rau, who resides in Apt. C.

Timco said the Reichs, whose apartment sustained heavy fire damage to the kitchen and smoke and water damage to other areas, are not insured. They were being assisted by the American Red Cross in finding temporary shelter.

Rau, who has insurance, is staying with relatives. His basement apartment sustained smoke and water damage.

The assistant fire chief said firefighter Benjamin Straub cut his hand battling the blaze and was transported by AREA Services Ambulance to Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital. Straub underwent emergency room treatment before being released.

Timco said some flames were showing as emergency personnel arrived at the scene and the fire was brought under control in about 30 minutes.

He said Shamokin Patrolman Raymond Siko II was the first responder and attempted to douse the fire with a fire extinguisher, but was unable to do so when flames spread into a wall.

The apartment building is located at the corner of Pine and Poplar streets near Bill’s Tavern in a hilly area of the township.

Responding to the call were all Coal Township fire units, fire personnel from Shamokin, Overlook and Kulpmont, Shamokin Emergency Squad, AREA Services and PPL employees.

Assisting Timco were Shamokin fire chiefs Jason Zimmerman, Bruce Rogers, Steve Jeffery and Ken Pilkus. Fire chiefs remained at the scene until about 4 p.m.

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