MOUNT CARMEL — Three people were left homeless Tuesday morning when fire ravaged two houses in the 400 block of North Walnut Street.
Mount Carmel Police Chief Chris Buhay reported the two-alarm blaze broke out on an exterior wall at 434 N. Walnut St., causing extensive damage to the home and to an adjacent dwelling at 432 N. Walnut St.
The cause of the fire remains undetermined.
Buhay said Patrolman Justin Stelma, who was the first emergency personnel to arrive at the scene, reported seeing flames between the two properties.
The police chief said Kelly Witmer, 37, and her 35-year-old boyfriend, Jason Dillow, of 434 N. Walnut St., and Edward Koblinski, 68, of 432 N. Walnut St., were left homeless.
Buhay, who arrived at the scene at 7 a.m., said Witmer and Koblinski were home at the time of the fire while Dillow was working. The chief said Witmer, who called in the fire, woke up Dillow’s father, John Dillow, 59, of 438 N. Walnut St., and both were able to escape unharmed. Koblinski also escaped injury.
John Dillow attempted to extinguish the blaze with a fire extinguisher, but the fire was too intense to knock down.
A firefighter injured his wrist during a fall, but the extent of his injury was unknown, Buhay said.
Police said John Dillow owns the home at 434 N. Walnut St.
The properties at 432 and 434 N. Walnut St. are not insured. Buhay said he didn’t know if 438 N. Walnut St., which sustained minor heat damage, is insured.
Firefighters battled the blaze for about an hour before bringing it under control and remained at the scene until about 1 p.m.
The fire rekindled at 434 N. Walnut St. at 3 p.m., pressing firefighters back into service for about an hour.
Buhay said an investigation of the fire by himself, state police Fire Marshal Jim Nizinski, of the Milton barracks, and borough fire Chiefs Jim Reed, Jack Williams Jr. and John Janolek was unable to determine a cause.
In addition to fire units from Mount Carmel, Atlas, Kulpmont and Shamokin, Mount Carmel Township Chief of Police Brian Hollenbush and township Patrolmen Daniel Politza and Brian Carnuccio also assisted at the scene.