Firefighters Killed Fighting Pennsylvania House Fire

Body of man who lived in the home was also found outside
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 9, 2022 1:41 AM CST
Firefighters Killed Fighting Pennsylvania House Fire
This photo provided by the Frederick County, Md., Division of Fire/Rescue Services shows New Tripoli Fire Company Assistant Fire Chief Zachary Paris. Paris is one of two firefighters who died Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022, responding to a house fire, Pennsylvania State Police said.   (Frederick County Division of Fire/Rescue Services via AP)

Two firefighters died responding to a house fire Wednesday in rural eastern Pennsylvania where a man's body was found outside, state police said. The New Tripoli Fire Company members who lost their lives were identified as Assistant Fire Chief Zachary Paris, 36, and Marvin Gruber, 59, Pennsylvania State Police Trooper David Beohm said. The body of another person was discovered Wednesday on the large plot of land surrounding the home in West Penn Township near Tamaqua, a small coal-region town about 85 miles from Philadelphia, the AP reports.

He was identified Thursday as Christopher Kammerdiener, 35, according to Deputy Coroner Michael Bowman, who said Kammerdiener lived at the house that caught fire. Officials did not release further details on the investigation of Kammerdiener's death. Don Smith, Jr., a spokesperson for the Lehigh County Communications Center, said at a news conference Thursday that the two firefighters became trapped while trying to put out the blaze, and that other firefighters worked quickly to try to rescue them. They were rushed to the hospital, where they died, Smith said. Officials said the causes of death and details of funeral arrangements would be released at a later date. Two other firefighters were also injured.

Paris lived and volunteered in New Tripoli but worked as a professional firefighter in Frederick County, Maryland. He joined the county's fire department as a recruit in February and had just graduated from the fire academy in September. Survivors include his wife, two daughters, a sister and his parents. Gruber worked at Northampton Community College for 22 years, the last 15 in the Department of Public Safety. West Penn Township Police Chief James Bonner said two other people—“an uncle and nephew”—lived in the three-story single-family home where the firefighters died. Bonner called the scene an active crime scene, and said Pennsylvania State Police and the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting the investigation.

(Read more Pennsylvania stories.)

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