UPDATE: Motorist alerted homeowner to fire in Middleport

·2 min read

May 22—MIDDLEPORT — A motorist noticed smoke and flames at a borough home Monday morning and was able to alert an occupant who didn't realize the large building was on fire.

The fire reported at 11:44 a.m. caused extensive damage to the home of Charles and Catherine Snukis, 2 Main St., at the corner of Main and Coal.

Port Carbon Fire Chief Michael Welsh, who was the first chief on scene and assumed command, said the fire appeared to have started in the roof area at the northeast corner of the two-story building where a conduit provides coverage for electrical wires that run into a garage behind the home.

Welsh said firefighters were able to contain the flames to that area but that portions inside the home sustained extensive smoke and water damage.

Welsh said Middleport Fire Chief Darren Berger and Assistant Fire Chief Terry David are conducting the investigation with assistance from a state police fire marshal from the Frackville station.

Welsh said both Charles and Catherine Snukis declined assistance by the American Red Cross Tri-County Chapter.

Welsh estimated damage at $25,000 to $30,000.

Catherine Snukis was home at the time but did not know her residence was on fire.

She was alerted by Bill Manness, of Port Carbon, who noticed the smoke and flames while returning home from visiting his uncle in Tamaqua.

"I was coming home and decided it was nice and thought I'd take the back way" instead of Route 209, Manness said, and that's when he spotted the fire.

He said he stopped and alerted Catherine Snukis. The two used a garden hose to try and put the fire out but it didn't work.

Manness said he is glad firefighters got to the home in time and that he was able to alert the occupant.

"I just did what I was supposed to," he said. "I'm just glad I was going that way or it could have been a lot worse."

Both Main and Coal streets were closed for several hours while the fire was extinguished.

Crews from Port Carbon, Middleport, Kaska, Cumbola, New Philadelphia, Pottsville and Schuylkill Twp. responded, along with Schuylkill EMS and Tamaqua EMS.

No injuries were reported, and area fire police assisted with traffic control.

Contact the writer: fandruscavage@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6013