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‘Complex’ criminal investigation underway after 10 members of firefighter’s family die in ‘intense’ blaze

Ten members of a Pennsylvania firefighter’s family died in an early morning house fire described as “intense” by one witness.

A criminal investigation is underway.

Volunteer Fire Company firefighter Harold Baker was on the first engine to arrive at his relatives’ burning home shortly before 3 a.m. Monday. He thought he was going to a neighboring address.

“When we turned the corner up here on Dewey (St.) I knew right away what house it was just by looking down the street,” Baker told the Associated Press.

The deadly blaze occurred in the eastern borough of Nescopeck, which is less than 100 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Baker said the dead — three children and seven adults — included his son, daughter, father-in-law, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, three grandchildren, and two other relatives. His children were staying overnight in the home, which is owned by their aunt and uncle and has a pool. The victims ranged in age from 5 to 79.

There were also a dozen dogs in the home, Baker said, but he couldn’t speak to their status.

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Pennsylvania’s Time Leder said three people survived after fleeing the burning house on 733 1st St. Investigators based in Shickninny, Pa., have reportedly launched a “complex criminal investigation.”

Firefighters from two counties responded to the burning two-story home, which is irreparable.

“I’ve never seen anything burn so intense,” neighbor Bernie Snedeker told the Times Leader.

He said flames reached the top of surrounding trees.

Mike Swank, who lives across the street from the burned house, told the AP he saw two people standing outside the home “in various states of hysteria” as the tragedy unfolded. One of those men was on a cellphone and “The other guy was out in the street and he was just running around in circles.”

The Luzerne County Coroners Office joined police K-9 patrols in their rescue and recovery efforts. Autopsies will be preformed Saturday.

With News Wire Services

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