Fire guts home in Bangor, Northampton County

Family escapes fire; pets killed in blaze

Posted: 5:31 PM EST Dec 24, 2013   Updated: 2:55 PM EST Nov 25, 2013

The cold air proved to be quite a challenge for firefighters as they tried to put out a fire in Northampton County. The blaze destroyed a home, and left the family who lived there with only the clothes on their backs.

People living in Bangor woke up to a scare Sunday morning.

"I heard all the fire whistles going off," shared Mark Rouch.

Firefighters rushed to the scene, as thick dark smoke poured from a house on Market Street.

"Wasn't real bad when I first got here, but it got away from them real quick," Rouch explained.

The call came in around 6 a.m. The family of three renting the home were all able to make it out okay.

"Upon arrival we did see a lot of fire and smoke coming out of the left rear of the building," described Bangor Fire Chief Robert Engle.

Firefighters had it under control in about 45 minutes, leaving a blackened, burned out shell. But they say the high winds and frigid temperatures made fighting this fire even harder.

"We were afraid of the spread of fire because of the winds involved," added Engle. "But we were able to contain it just to this building."

The flames may have been intense, but outside it was bitter cold. Temperatures were below freezing, and with the wind chill, it felt like 7 degrees.

"Once the water hits everything, it just automatically freezes," said Engle. "We've got to keep water flowing so it doesn't freeze in the hoses, and it's just a big battle, it gets all over everybody, makes everything a lot worse."

Water froze on the firefighters, icicles dangled from the power line, and the sidewalks and street turned into sheets of ice. Salt was used to keep it from spreading. Engle says it was a challenge.

"With the ice on the ground, you can slip and fall," he shared. "It's just very hard to even maneuver and hold a hose and get equipment onto the scene because of the ice."

We're told two cats and a pet pig didn't survive the fire. The damage to the house is beyond repair.

"It appears it's going to be a total loss," explained Engle. "The roof caved in, a lot of damage inside, pretty much everything is gone."

"Prayers have to be with the people that live there, this close to Thanksgiving," said Rouch.

Officials say it's unclear what sparked the fire, but it does appear to be accidental.

The Red Cross provided a family of two adults and one child with clothing, shoes, seasonal garments, food and lodging.