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Fire destroys home in Tamaqua

One family is without a home after a fire Tuesday morning in one Schuylkill County community.

TAMAQUA, Pa. — Fire broke out at a home in the 600 block of East Broad Street in Tamaqua just before 7 a.m. on Tuesday.

Jennifer Wissian and her husband were sitting on the back porch of their home across the street.

"We heard a big boom, and then we heard sirens go off," she said. "I told him to go look, and we seen a bunch of the fire company coming right up the street."

Wissian said she saw smoke rising from the rear of the home.

Tamaqua Fire Chief James Connely said he believes the "big boom" came from propane tanks sitting on the back deck.

"They were 20-pound tanks. He had two of them on his back porch for a grill. When the propane released, with the fire already there," Connely said. "That got the propane on right away. You can see how it wrapped around on the side. That's what a lot of people heard. I think that pop was probably the relief valves releasing on the propane tanks."

Firefighters tried to keep the blaze from spreading to neighboring homes, calling in a third alarm for more manpower.

Wissian said her neighbors across the street evacuated their homes just in case.

"They thought the whole row of homes were going to go up, so she gave me her grandson and her pictures just in case," Wissian said.

The heat damaged the exterior of the home next door and melted the siding off of the next house over.

Flames ripped through the home where the fire started, leaving little to be salvaged.

"Right now, we think the insurance company, just talking to their adjuster, they feel that it's probably going to be a major loss," the fire chief said. "It will probably be a total loss in the fire."

One firefighter was treated for heat exhaustion, but there were no other injuries in the blaze. The homeowners had left for work.

Wissian said she feels for the family.

"It was pretty scary," she said. "It was sad too."

The family tells Newswatch 16 they lost two kittens in the fire.

The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.