Man is found dead after a small fire

Edward Lewis

January 24, 2013

HARVEYS LAKE – An elderly man was found dead inside his house after a borough police officer smothered a small blaze with a fire extinguisher on Wednesday.

Luzerne County Acting Coroner William Lisman identified the man as 81-year-old Robert Hart.

Toxicology tests will be performed to determine if Hart died from smoke inhalation or natural causes, Lisman said.

Firefighters from Harveys Lake and Kunkle were dispatched to Hart's residence at 10 Hart Lane just before 11 a.m.

Lisman said Hart's daughter was checking on her father, found the house filled with smoke and called 911.

A police officer rushed into the house and smothered flames in a recliner with a fire extinguisher, Lisman said.

Lisman said Hart was found on the first floor near the recliner.

He was not in the chair and it appeared he made an effort to get away, Lisman said.

Deputy Coroner Dan Hughes said a pet dog also perished in the house. The dog was found on the second floor, Hughes said.

The house is located on a narrow one-way street that ends at the Hart residence, about 100 yards from Queen of Peace Road.

Firefighters had to back up apparatus vehicles on Hart Lane when they cleared the scene.

State police deputy fire marshals Tim Young and Karri Dodson are investigating the cause of the fire.

The house sustained mostly smoke damage. A police officer said the fire damage was contained to the recliner.

Hart lived alone in the house, Lisman said.