Scranton, Lackawanna County - A young child playing with a candle is being blamed for starting a massive fire in West Scranton Monday morning.
The blaze started around 9:00 AM in the 1500-block of Swetland Street.
Five hours after the blaze began, the double-block home where the fire started was nothing more than a pile of rubble.
The president of the Scranton firefighters union also spoke out saying he's concerned about recent staffing cuts and the effect it had on the city's response.
"Thanks Mayor. Look at this. I lost everything, everything," fire victim Steve Flatt said.
Union president John Judge IV said his agency did the best it could but they weren't even close to having enough resources.
"Manpower and equipment-wise, we did not have the proper resources there to deal with a fire of that magnitude," Judge said.
Union members say the nearest firehouse on Luzerne Street was out of service because of recent budget cuts. Eyewitness News found that station to be 1.1 miles away.
The city's administration fired back saying the nearest engine company was still about the same distance away at the fire station on North Main Avenue. Eyewitness news found that station to be 1.2 miles away from the fire scene.
When asked if he felt the city had enough initial resources, Scranton mayor Chris Doherty responded, "Absolutely. They were right on target and they did their job and that's what they're supposed to do."
The mayor says the first call came in at 9:03 AM and the first engine was on scene at 9:08 AM.
"The fire was what we call 'in the air' so I don't believe anything else could have been better than what we have today," Scranton fire chief Tom Davis said.
One of the fire victims, who had damage to the siding of his home, wondered if a quicker response could have saved him damage.
"My house shouldn't have been touched or them to protect it, from getting fire damage," fire victim Michael Conforti said.
"Another company would have been able to protect that house to the one side here. That's something that was able to be done years ago," Scranton councilman Jack Loscombe said.
"We warned them in the union that this day would come and here it is and now we have to move forward and see how we're going to deal with this," Judge said.
Scranton is in the same situation that we are. The politico's are saying, "There is no difference in response time" and then show the first engines arrival time. This is, well not a lie, it IS an untruth. It is about getting the minimum number of firefighters there in the critical time, so the second engine is JUST AS IMPORTANT. Politicians know this, they just don't care.
Dan Emplit WBFD
AKA Don Quixote