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Coroner: Smoke inhalation killed at least 5 of 10 in fire

Crews work to demolish a house that was destroyed by a fatal fire on the 700 block of 1st Street in Nescopeck, Pa., Friday, Aug. 5, 2022. Multiple people are feared dead after a house fire early Friday in northeastern Pennsylvania, according to a volunteer firefighter who responded and said the victims were his relatives. A criminal investigation is underway, police said. (Sean McKeag/The Citizens' Voice via AP)

NESCOPECK (AP) — Authorities say at least half of the 10 people found dead after an early morning fire in northeastern Pennsylvania died of smoke inhalation.

The Luzerne County coroner’s office said autopsies on the victims of the early Friday blaze in Nescopeck began Saturday. Examinations by Dr. Gary Ross were completed on three adult females, one adult male and a female child, the office said in a news release Saturday afternoon.

All died of smoke inhalation, and a determination on the manner of death of the victims is pending the outcome of the fire investigation, the coroner’s office said. Positive identification of the victims is pending review of medical records, dental records and DNA if required, the coroner’s office said.

State police said seven adults ranging from late teens to age 79 were killed along with children aged 5, 6 and 7.

The county’s district attorney, Sam Sanguedolce, said a preliminary investigation suggests the fire broke out on the front porch at around 2:30 a.m., Friday. He said it appears that “the fire started and progressed very quickly, making it very difficult to get out.”

Nescopeck is a small town on the Susquehanna River, about 20 miles southwest of Wilkes-Barre. The house was on a residential street of largely owner-occupied, single family homes.

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