Poconos Coal

Veteran killed in Schuylkill County fire

Home did not have smoke detectors, officials say.

Family remembers man killed in fire

CASS TWP., Pa. - A Schuylkill County man is dead after fire tore through his duplex home in Cass Township Sunday morning.

The fire started around 2:40 a.m. at 33 South Maple Avenue.

According to police, the left side of the building was engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived.

Officials said eight companies responded to the fire.

A man who lives in the right side of the duplex tells 69 News he heard loud banging before his smoke detectors went off.

He immediately rushed out of his home and called 911, before trying to rescue his neighbor.

That neighbor tells 69 News residents tried to get inside of the home in hopes of rescuing the victim, but were unsuccessful.

Police said Richard "Rickey" Dermo, 65, died inside the burning building.

Officials said there were no smoke detectors in Dermo's home.

Neighbors said Dermo lived there most of his life.

Family and friends described Dermo as a "fun-loving" man who mostly kept to himself.

Dermo had two daughters and seven grandchildren.

Dermo's daughter said she was up caring for her newborn baby when she heard about the fire on Facebook.

"I was told it was the house across the street. I came to check on my dad to make sure he was okay…and found out it was here," said Desiree Dermo, the victim's daughter. ""All I could think of was that was my dad's house. They didn't want me to see anything. They took me up the street."

On Sunday afternoon, Desiree and her mom spent time going through her father's home.

While almost everything was ruined in the fire, a few of her father's items were salvaged.

His dog tags from serving in the U.S. Air Force, his sister's wedding album, and a photo of his brother were recovered.

Among his damaged belongings was his stereo--a possession Desiree said her father held dear to his heart.

"He loved all kinds of music, the Beatles especially… It's one of the things that kind of connected us the most," Dermo said. "He associated music with everything. It got him through stuff."

The cause of the fire is still under investigation.

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