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'The scariest thing of my life' - Residents recall frightening moments during deadly Wilkes-Barre fire

Newswatch 16's Courtney Harrison spoke to residents who escaped the early morning fire at the Genetti complex.

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — A fire Tuesday morning in Wilkes-Barre left one person dead and about 100 residents needing another place to stay.

People who live in the apartments in one part of the Genetti complex in Wilkes-Barre woke up to heavy smoke after a fire broke out on the third floor of the building on East Market Street.

RELATED: Deadly fire displaces dozens of people in Wilkes-Barre

The fire victim was identified as Larry Wilson, 67, a resident of the apartment building. An autopsy determined that the cause of death was accidental smoke inhalation.

Romaine Schwevke lived on the fifth floor with her fiance Jared Lampkins. She said they and two others had to be rescued by firefighters.

"By the time they got the ladder up to the fifth floor, the fire was already at our feet coming up, and it was me, her, him, and some other guys stuck on the fifth floor. We're sitting there screaming, crying, everything we could to get the fire truck directions to realize we're up there," Schwevke said.

"Thank God that we got out of there in time. I made sure they got out, and then as they were on the ladder, I ran back. I kind of ran into the door. I'm not even going to kid you because I can see nothing, but I tried to run back, bang on every door, see if anyone was still in there," Lampkins said.

The fire forced out nearly 100 residents.

Larry Wilson, who lived on the third floor, died in the fire; two dogs also perished. 

Wilson's cause of death was from breathing in too much smoke, according to the coroner.

Residents say that they heard fire alarms going off just before midnight, but they didn't react until they saw smoke because it happens so often.

"I kept hearing the alarm, so I was like, I don't know what's going on," Tazhane Ford said. "Everybody from the third floor came out of their rooms at the same time. And once we seen that, we went over to the guy's room and opened the door, and it was nothing but black. Like you couldn't see nothing. Black smoke was coming out."

The Red Cross is helping people affected by the fire.

The fire chief says there's a lot of damage to the building

Most residents got out with just a few things.

"They're going to try to talk to the fire marshals to see if we can get in there to get the central stuff that we need. As far as they can see, it's only the third and fourth floor they're really messed up," Schwevke said.

The mayor's office says that, in all, 125 people cannot stay in their apartments at the Genetti Complex right now.

A state police deputy fire marshal and the city fire inspector are investigating the cause of the blaze.

See more about the fire in the video below.

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