Crews respond within minutes but ‘just too late’ to save woman known to friends as ‘Betty’

Last updated: August 30. 2013 12:18AM - 5809 Views
By - smocarsky@civitasmedia.com



Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney completes paperwork Thursday in front of 77 Kent Lane, the scene of a house fire that claimed the life of a 90-year-old woman.
Wilkes-Barre Fire Chief Jay Delaney completes paperwork Thursday in front of 77 Kent Lane, the scene of a house fire that claimed the life of a 90-year-old woman.
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WILKES-BARRE — A woman in her 90s died Thursday in a blaze that consumed the home on Kent Lane in which she was born and raised, according to neighbors.


City firefighters responded to a structure fire at 77 Kent Lane that was reported to Luzerne County 911 at 6:48 p.m.


Crews found heavy fire inside the three-story, single-family home when they arrive, said Fire Chief Jay Delaney. They were on-scene within four minutes, “but it was just too late” to save the woman, whom firefighters found on the second floor, he said.


The woman was the only person who lived there, Delaney said. He declined to release her name.


Next-door neighbor Dennis Palmer, 64, identified the sole occupant as Elizabeth Kovach. “Betty,” as she was known to her friends, had lived in the house her entire life, he said, and he described her as “a very nice lady and kept very good care of her home.”


Dennis Palmer and his wife Dorothy lived next door to Kovach for the past 10 years. Dorothy Palmer said she was stepping outside when she heard a bang next door, looked up and “saw flames shooting out of the second-floor window.” She alerted her husband and ran down the street to try to reach a neighbor who had been somewhat of a caretaker to Kovach.


Dennis Palmer ran to retrieve his garden hose, “but that didn’t do a whole lot of good,” he said. “Kids in the neighborhood kicked the door in, but it was too involved, we couldn’t get inside.”


A city fire inspector was on scene and a state police fire marshal was called, Delaney said. He wouldn’t speculate on what might have caused the fire.


Dennis Palmer was grateful to the firefighters for arriving in time to safeguard his house and the house on the other side of Kovach’s because the flames were getting close, he said. “But it’s a shame,” he said, “the firefighters didn’t get here in time to save Betty.”

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