WILKES-BARRE TWP. — Firefighters from several departments battled severe cold temperatures when a blaze struck an apartment and a garage at Harris and Metcalf streets Friday afternoon.
Neil Ross, of Bear Creek Township, who owns the apartment and garage, said he believes a tenant was heating up the apartment to thaw pipes that froze when the fire broke out at about 12:30 p.m.
Flames quickly spread to an attached garage that engulfed a vehicle. The roof and walls collapsed forcing firefighters to fight an exterior attack from the ground and an aerial ladder truck.
Heat from the fire burned vinyl siding at Pine Run Alternators and Starters, a business owned by Ross located across the street from the blaze.
“There is a wood burner in there but it also burns coal,” Ross said. “My tenant was trying to make it warmer because the pipes were freezing.”
At the time of the blaze, the temperature was 14 degrees with a wind chill of 6 degrees, according to the National Weather Service in Binghamton, New York.
The tenant and a pet dog escaped without injury.
Water runoff quickly froze along Harris Street and East Northampton Street.
Police closed traffic on East Northampton Street in the area of the blaze.
Firefighters from Ashley, Hanover Township, Laurel Run and Wilkes-Barre City assisted firefighters in the township.