A Pennsylvania firefighter has spoken of his grief at losing ten family members to a devastating fire he responded to.
Harold Baker III said he was first on the scene of the Nescopeck fire in the early hours of Friday morning and initially did not realize the house engulfed in flames was where 13 lived members of his family.
The 56-year-old explained that witnesses had actually reported that the house next door was on fire when calling 911.
“I was the first to introduce myself,” said Mr. Baker The Independent. “One of my sons, who died, was also a firefighter.”
The bodies of ten of his relatives, including his 19-year-old son, have been found, Mr Baker said. Three children between the ages of five and seven are among the victims. Three others managed to escape from hell.
Mr Baker, who has been a firefighter for nearly four decades, said he regrets desperately not being able to save his family members.
“I couldn’t get in there to save them. It’s the biggest thing that’s been on me. I couldn’t get in to save them,” he told local news channel WNEP, which first reported on the tragedy.
Pennsylvania State Police identified the slain adult as Dale Baker, 19, Star Baker, 2; David Daubert, 79; Brian Daubert, 4 years old; Shannon Daubert, 45; Laure Daubert, 47; and Marian Slusser, 54.
Violet Kessler, who is linked to eight of the victims, said The New York Times some of them had decided to stay home after spending the day together Thursday at the pool.
“I don’t even understand things,” Ms Kessler told the Time. “I don’t even know how to integrate everything into my brain. It’s like a dream.
Mr Baker said The Independent that he has the support of the community during this difficult time.
“They take care of my whole family, everyone in it. We have stores giving us food and sending all kinds of donations,” he said.
The mayor of Nescopeck’s daughter, Robin Massina, has also set up a GoFundMe to cover funeral expenses and help surviving family members.
Pennsylvania State Police have opened a criminal investigation into the fire. A cause has not been determined.