New Castle News
NEW CASTLE —
Jim Hooks believes that going out late Friday night saved his life.
And the lives of four other people as well.
Hooks returned to his Neshannock Township home early Saturday to see smoke coming out of it. Shortly thereafter, flames consumed the trailer — and one next it — at the Sunny Crest Mobile Home Park on Cathcart Drive.
Had he decided against going out for a drink that evening, Hooks said he would have been asleep when the fire broke out and he could have died. The four people in the trailer next door could have been killed as well, he believes.
Firemen responded at 2:46 a.m. Saturday and remained on the scene until 4:45 a.m. The Neshannock Township Volunteer Fire Department was assisted by New Wilmington and Mahoning Township volunteer departments.
The American Red Cross was called to the scene to assist the residents from the trailers.
On Saturday, Hooks and his brother, Jerry, who are the landlords of the mobile home park, examined what little was left of the two trailers, located just north of the New Castle line off Wilmington Road. About the only thing they found were some canned goods.
Hooks said he arrived at home shortly after 2:30 a.m. Saturday to discover his mobile home was burning. After calling 911, he said he attempted to put out the fire himself. However, when he opened the front door, he was forced back by flames and had to go to the back.
But the fire spread, and Hooks said the heat caused his air conditioner to explode. At that point, he alerted neighbors Charles and Carrie Boyer, who fled their trailer with their two sons.
The first truck from the Neshannock Volunteer Fire Department soon arrived on the scene, but Hooks said it ran out of water. By that time, flames had spread to the Boyer mobile home. With the head start of the fire, both trailers were destroyed.
As for the cause of the fire, Hooks noted he was having trouble with his furnace. However, he told the New Castle News that he thought someone could have thrown a burning item through his front door while he was gone.
Hooks said he had no insurance on the trailer or its contents. And he estimates he has only $43 to his name.
Chief John DiCola of Neshannock Volunteer Fire Department, said the cause of the fires may never be known.
“Both trailers were destroyed,” he said. “There is nothing left to determine a cause.”
He added that he had no damage estimate.
“They were older trailers,” he said, “The fire spread quickly. We’re fortunate that no one, no civilians and no firefighters, were injured.”