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Careless smoking cited in Wilkes-Barre high-rise fire

Wilkes-Barre fire crews battle B'nai B'rith blaze
Courtesy City of Wilkes-Barre
Wilkes-Barre fire crews are seen battling a fire at B'nai B'rith apartments, which has been ruled accidental due to careless smoking, officials say.

A high-rise fire in downtown Wilkes-Barre has been ruled accidental, officials said Wednesday, while Wilkes-Barre Mayor George Brown offered his thanks and gratitude to the numerous agencies that responded.

The Feb. 15 fire at B’nai B’rith Apartments was caused by careless smoking, Fire Chief Jay Delaney said. It temporarily displaced 146 people.

“The immediate and organized response to the fire at B’nai B’rith Apartments is a reminder of the cooperation between the City of Wilkes-Barre and our neighboring communities, especially during emergencies,” Brown said in a letter issued Wednesday. “The continued efforts of the social service agencies are a testament to the care and compassion that they provide for those most in need every day and especially during times of distress.”

Of the building’s 146 residents, 19 were transported to area hospitals, while 64 were transported to an emergency shelter at GAR Middle School. The remaining 63 residents were not home at the time or had taken shelter with family or friends, Brown said.

Over a dozen Emergency Response Agencies joined the Wilkes-Barre City Fire/EMS, in combating the blaze and assisting in treatment and transportation of the residents to local hospitals.

“The night of the fire, I witnessed the return on investment of hours of training and state-of-the-art equipment,” Brown said. “Above all, I saw the courage of our brave men and women.”

“With sincere gratitude, I recognize our mutual aid partners and further support from neighboring agencies,” the mayor added.

Those agencies included: Kingston/Forty Fort Fire Department, Hanover Twp. Fire Department, Plains Twp. Fire Department, Hanover Twp. Ambulance, Plains Twp. Ambulance, Nanticoke EMS, Greater Pittston Ambulance, Back Mountain Regional Fire/EMS, TransMed Ambulance, Geisinger EMS, Pennsylvania Ambulance, Wilkes-Barre City Police, Luzerne County 911, Allied Services Center City Skilled Nursing, Wilkes-Barre Area School District, American Red Cross, The Salvation Army, Wilkes-Barre City Health Department, Luzerne County Emergency Management Agency, and the Luzerne County Transportation Authority.

“Again, on behalf of the City of Wilkes-Barre, I extend my sincere gratitude to the responding Emergency Response Agencies and Social Service agencies for the immediate and continuing response to this event that has affected the lives of many of our residents,” Brown said.

Roger DuPuis joins WVIA News from the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader. His 24 years of experience in journalism, as both a reporter and editor, included several years at The Scranton Times-Tribune. His beat assignments have ranged from breaking news, local government and politics, to business, healthcare, and transportation. He has a lifelong interest in urban transit, particularly light rail, and authored a book about Philadelphia's trolley system.

You can email Roger at rogerdupuis@wvia.org