Newport Twp. firefighters commended for bravery at deadly fire

Patrick Kernan, The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
·2 min read

May 4—NEWPORT TWP. — Three Newport Township firefighters were commended on Monday evening for their attempts to save a girl from a Glen Lyon house fire in March.

Firefighters Josh Bukofski, Nick Kowalski and Dave Hoffman received commendations Monday night at a Newport Township commissioners meeting.

Their commendations were given to them by Mark Boncal, who is currently the chief of Nanticoke's fire department but was working for Newport Township as their chief at the time of the fire.

"I asked if I could present awards to these three gentlemen behind me for their bravery and courage," Boncal said, with the three firefighters behind him.

The fire in question occurred in the morning hours of March 18, when crews received reports of a fire with entrapment at a home on North Market Street in the Glen Lyon section of Newport Township.

The three firefighters worked to remove Grace Miller, 13, from the home; she unfortunately passed away as a result of injuries sustained in the blaze a few days later.

According to Boncal, Bukofski reported heavy fire on the first floor, and was able to obtain information that Miller was on the second floor.

"(He) was able to locate a ladder situated on a neighbor's house and position to the victim's bedroom window," Boncal said.

Hoffman then arrived, who began to work to contain the fire to the first floor while Bukofski searched for Miller. Kowalski helped Bukofski remove Miller, who was unconscious at the time, from the home.

Boncal presented Bukofski and Hoffman with a Medal of Honor, which is awarded to a firefighter who "performs an act of conspicuous heroism" in the face of intense personal risk. Kowalski received the Firefighter's Cross, for performing an "act of bravery and stamina" in extreme fire conditions.

Boncal said the firefighters' work was heroic.

"These three went above and beyond the call of duty; they knew what they were faced with," he said. "They were able to get inside the building; they were able to locate the victim and bring her out.

"It's unfortunate that she had passed, but these three knew what they were in for, but they were able to get in and get the job done," he said.