TAMAQUA, Pa. — Just before 4 p.m. Monday, crews were trying to put out flames at a home on Clamtown Road in West Penn Township.
Crews from several counties joined in the efforts to put the fire out.
Two firefighters from the New Tripoli Fire Department didn't make it out alive after being trapped inside.
West Penn Township Police Chief Jim Bonner said there were other injuries in the fire.
"Two West Penn Township firefighters were treated for injuries. One flown to the hospital and remains in intensive care," Bonner said.
According to police, two people lived in the home, a man and his nephew.
"One was home at the time; the other had just gotten home and found the flames coming out the back of the house. They were both here at the same time," Bonner said.
Not long after the fire started, a body was found in a wooded area behind the house.
Officials say the body belonged to Christopher Kammerdiener, the nephew who neighbors say had recently moved in with his uncle.
On Monday, December 12, police said Kammerdiener died from a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
West Penn Township Police, along with state police and the ATF, spent the day looking through the house, trying to determine what started the fire, but they do believe the fire to be suspicious.
"Everybody that lived in the house is being investigated," Bonner added.
12/8/22 - 1:00 p.m. UPDATE:
- West Penn Township Police Chief says the fire is considered suspicious.
- Two West Penn Township firefighters were also injured in this blaze. One was flown by helicopter to a hospital and is currently in the ICU with injuries.
- Chief also confirms Chris Kammerdiener lived at this home and was found dead about 100 yards behind the home.
12/8/22 - 11:15 AM UPDATE:
- Pennsylvania State Police confirmed memorial plans are underway for the two fallen firefighters; Assistant Fire Chief Zachary Paris, 36, and Marvin Gruber, 59, from Community Fire Company of New Tripoli
- The body found at the scene continues to be under investigation
Stay tuned to Newswatch 16 and WNEP.com for the latest updates as they become available.
12/8/22 - 12:00 AM UPDATE:
According to state police:
- Two people lived in the home.
- Two people got out safely and are being helped by the Red Cross.
- The firefighters who perished are Assistant Fire Chief Zachary Paris, 36, and Marvin Gruber, 59, from Community Fire Company New Tripoli.
- There is no new information on the body found on the property, though it is still under investigation.
Stay tuned to Newswatch 16 for the latest updates.
12/7/22 - 11:00 p.m. UPDATE:
- According to the West Penn Township police chief, this is an active crime scene.
- Pennsylvania State Police are on scene assisting.
- The ATF is also on scene.
- A press conference is expected shortly, and Newswatch 16 will have it live on WNEP.com and WNEP+ on Roku and FireTV.
12/7/22 - 10 p.m. UPDATE:
- Newswatch 16 has learned that the two firefighters that died at the hospital from the injuries battling the fire are out of the Lehigh County area.
- The body discovered on the property was found about 100 yards behind the house, which sits on a 20-acre plot of land.
- Police are currently not saying if that body is directly involved with tonight’s fire.
- There are a number of fire crews on the scene from multiple counties. Tankers have been bringing in water as the fire has been rekindling in several different parts of the house.
12/7/22 - 9 p.m. UPDATE:
Here is what Newswatch 16 has confirmed from the Schuylkill County Coroner:
- Two firefighters died at the hospital after being transported from the fire scene.
- One other person was found dead on the property.
- We do not know the identities of the firefighters or the third person found dead.
- Police have not yet given an official statement.
Fire crews from all over Schuylkill county continue to battle a fire in West Penn Township near Tamaqua.
Crews on the scene tell us that two firefighters were taken to the hospital for injuries sustained while fighting the fire.
The fire started around 4 p.m.
Heavy smoke could be seen for miles from the fire.
This is a developing story and we will provide updates as they become available.
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