News Details

Father only able to get half of 8-member family out of blazing house fire

03 Feb 2022
John Luciew
A raging blaze that tore through a Pa. home with 8 people inside left half of them dead and others hospitalized, even as the father leapt from a second-story window and tried to save everyone.
As the Citizens Voice reports, the Wednesday morning fire tore through a single-family home in Shickshinny, Luzerne County.
The newspaper quotes resident Michael Shoemaker Sr., 46, recounting the deadly ordeal:
“God took my son and my wife, and my other family. I don’t know why,” he said. “I don’t know what else to say. I’m at a loss for words. Some things can be replaced, but they can’t.”
State Police said eight people were inside the house at 50 Furnace St. when the fire broke out around 7 a.m.
Shoemaker told the newspaper he encountered thick black smoke around 6:50 a.m. and called for everyone to get out of the house as he leapt from a second-story window.
“I jumped out the window and I said, ‘You guys all follow me and I’ll catch you. I’ll save you,” Shoemaker was quoted as saying.
Shoemaker’s son Riley Shoemaker, 13, and stepson Gavin Konderchek, 12, also jumped out through the window — while his brother-in-law escaped through a side window. Tragically, the others were unable to get out, he told the Citizens Voice.
The cause of the fast-moving fire remained under investigation. (Additional details just below)
Troopers recovered four bodies from the scene of the fire, while two people escaped and two others were taken to area hospitals for treatment, including one in critical condition, the Citizens Voice reports, adding:
Authorities did not immediately identify the victims, but Shoemaker named them as his mother-in-law, Jean Jones, 68; wife, Georgette Jones Shoemaker, 41; son, Michael Shoemaker Jr., 15; and nephew, Harley Jones, 18.
Witnesses reported hearing explosions as the fire spread. Shoemaker told the Citizens Voice the explosions were likely the result of his mother-in-law’s oxygen tanks coming into contact with the flames.
“I guess (the oxygen) ignited it even more,” he said of the deadly blaze.