NESCOPECK, Pa. (AP) — At least half of the 10 people killed by a wildfire in northeastern Pennsylvania have died of smoke inhalation, authorities said.
Autopsies began Saturday on the victims of the Nescopeck fire early Friday, the Luzerne County coroner said.
Dr. Gary Ross performed autopsies on three women, a man and a girl, the coroner said in a statement Saturday afternoon.
Determination of cause of death
— for example, qualifying the deaths as accidental or homicide — will depend on the conclusion of the fire investigation, the coroner said. He added that the identification of the victims is being done through medical records, dental records and DNA.
State police said seven adults — ranging in late teens to 79 years old — and three children ages 5, 6 and 7 were killed.
According to preliminary investigations, the fire broke out in the front yard around 2:30 am Friday, District Attorney Sam Sanguedolce said. Apparently, he added, “the fire broke out and spread very quickly, making it difficult for people to get out.”
Nescopeck is a small town on the banks of the Susquehanna River, about 20 miles (32 kilometers) southwest of Wilkes-Barre. The house was on a residential street, mostly occupied by homeowners and single-family homes.