SCRANTON, Pa. — UPDATE:
This fire that destroyed a home in Scranton has been ruled accidental.
Thick, dark smoke could be seen for miles, even causing traffic to be bumper to bumper on nearby Interstate 81 for a time as drivers looked at what was happening.
The fire started just after 3 p.m. on the second story of the home on the 800 block of Meadow Avenue in Scranton's South Side.
"It was fully engulfed at that time. The flames were coming through the roof about 10 to 15 feet high," said neighbor Bob Sheridan.
The two people who live in the home and their dog were able to get out safely.
The woman who owns it has lived there since she was a little girl.
"To be honest with you, even I was in shock, it took me a few minutes to realize what happened," Carol Wasalinko said.
Wasalinko lives across the street; she made calls to all the neighbors to let them know everyone was OK.
But a few hours later, she is still shaken up.
"It's when the firemen got there and the fire shot through the roof that's when everyone in the block realized, this is serious. This isn't a little fire; it's a big fire. The house is a total loss," she said.
The American Red Cross is helping the victims, but neighbors say they will help out, too.
"We're a close-knit neighborhood here. Everyone watches out for everyone. Everybody is out to help each other," Sheridan said.
And that's why just days before Christmas, they will do whatever they can.
"We'll make sure she's getting help," he added.
Folks who live in this part of Scranton say there is money in their neighborhood association fund they can use; once they figure what is really needed in daylight, they will start a collection.
"What do you do? How do you fix what you can't fix? You just offer support and hope for the best," Wasalinko said.
Scranton fire investigators determined that the fire started accidentally when the occupant was using a heat source to make repairs on the house exterior.
If you would like to donate to the victims of this fire, click here.
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