TAMAQUA, Pa. — Flames could be seen shooting from the 16th floor of the ABC Tamaqua Hi-Rise on East Broad Street early Friday morning.
The fire started in a corner apartment shortly after 6 a.m.
At least one person died in the fire.
Another person had to be flown to the hospital.
Several people had to be rescued from the building.
John Ziloko lives on the 15th floor and remembers opening his apartment door and smelling smoke.
"I was sound asleep, and all of a sudden, I hear the alarm going off. I have a scanner radio by my bed, an emergency scanner radio, and I heard them say structure fire at the high-rise, and then like all of a sudden I come out my apartment door, and it's all smoky," Ziloko recalled.
"We did have a very smoky, toxic condition, and that was a challenge. It was hot. So basically, these rooms are small, but they're compacted, a lot of stuff into the rooms, and it comes down to mainly a contents fire of the room," explained Tamaqua Fire Chief James Connely.
The top five floors were evacuated first.
Residents say they always knew that there was a possibility that something like this could happen.
"I figured it could happen anytime. It's just one of those things. With that many people in the building, it could happen," said resident Donald Miller.
"I was a little panicky at first, but you know God was with us," Ziloko said. "God was with us and kept us safe and sound, and that's all that matters."
Investigators have not determined how the fire started.