With the help of a co-worker and neighbors, a Williamsport man rescued his elderly and blind parents Thursday morning from their burning home on Second Street in the city.
As James Pardee II, 50, carried his 83-year-old father, James Pardee, out the back door, neighbors rescued 78-year-old Florence Pardee from 651 Second St., where a kitchen fire erupted about 8:30 a.m.
"A kid waiting to get on a bus saw smoke coming out of the house, and all of a sudden I saw some mothers who were with their kids running down the street," the younger Pardee said.
"I ran out and they were already on my parents' front porch, trying to get in, yelling to my mother," said Pardee, who was at his business, Billtown Countertops, located next to his parents' home.
"There were two girls already in the house, but the smoke was so thick, they were driven out. You could only see two or three feet because everything was pitch black," Pardee said in describing the conditions inside the home.
Pardee, along with his co-worker, Ron Guinter, 55, of 571 Old Route 15, Cogan Station, entered through the back door and began looking for the couple.
PHILIP A. HOLMES/Sun-Gazette
On Thursday morning, two firefighters battle a blaze at 651 Second St. that sent the homeowners and one of their rescuers to the hospital.
"Get down, get down," Guinter told Pardee as the two men walked through the dense smoke.
"When I entered the kitchen, the flames were coming from the range and the entire wall behind the range was on fire," Pardee said.
He found his father sitting on a stool in a former greenhouse next to the kitchen.
"He was on the telephone trying to dial 911 or he was already on the phone with them," Pardee said.
"Dad, the house is on fire. The house is on fire," Pardee yelled as he grabbed his father, threw him up on his shoulder and carried him outside. Guinter assisted with the rescue.
By that time, neighbors had reached Mrs. Pardee, who is on oxygen, and were helping her off the front porch.
The couple and Guinter were taken by ambulances to Williamsport Regional Medical Center and treated for smoke inhalation. While the elder Pardee and Guinter were discharged, Mrs. Pardee was admitted in fair condition.
One of the neighbors who assisted Mrs. Pardee off the porch, Alisia Wayne, 25, was treated at the scene for minor smoke inhalation.
The Pardees' miniature schnauzer, Thea, also made it out of the burning house alive.
Right from the start, it was a very tough battle for city firefighters, who fought the flames and intense heat for more than 90 minutes before the blaze was brought under control.
Numerous volunteer fire companies, including South Williamsport, Old Lycoming Township, Loyalsock Township and Montoursville, assisted.
City Fire Chief C. Dean Heinbach said once the fire reached the second floor, it got into the insulation and walls.
"It became a very labor-intensive job. Firefighters had to rip open the ceilings and the roof," Heinbach said.
Much of the home was piled with the couple's possessions, making it very difficult for firefighters to maneuver through the house, Heinbach said.
Pardee had turned on the electric stove to heat up the house, and the blaze was sparked when a pair of gloves left on top of a burner caught fire, Heinbach said.
"Don't use a kitchen stove as an alternative heat source. It's not a good idea," Heinbach warned.
The house was a total loss and damage was estimated at about $80,000, he said.
The Pardees, who are getting emergency assistance from the local chapter of the American Red Cross, had fire insurance, their son said.