Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Coal Region Canary
Coal Region CanaryCoal Region Canary

Minersville News

Minersville Honors Heroes Who Responded to Deadly House Fire

Three receive the 2024 Minersville Citizens of the Year award.

On the afternoon of April 14, people in one section of Minersville watched as six homes on Second St. caught fire.

When the flames broke out that day, the actions of several who responded won’t soon be forgotten.

On Tuesday, Minersville Borough Council honored three of those people as its 2024 Citizens of the Year during a special ceremony.

Oscar Rivera, the neighbor across the street who bravely scaled his own ladder to rescue two people from one of the burning homes, along with firefighters Mike Melochick and Luke Heffron received commendation from the borough and named its Outstanding Citizens for their actions that day.

Rivera’s actions were caught on camera as he braved heavy smoke pouring from one of the burning homes on Second St. to rescue two people, pulling them to safety.

Sadly, one of those people, 77-year-old Mario Ramirez, has since succumbed to injuries he sustained that day.

It’s an image many aren’t likely soon to forget. Oscar Rivera pulls Mario Ramirez from a burning home on Second St. in Minersville on the afternoon of April 14.

On receiving the award from the borough, the soft-spoken Rivera was nearly speechless.

“It’s unbelievable, man,” he told The Canary. “Like, wow!”

The day of the tragic fire is still fresh in his mind.

“I think about it every day. I see it every day,” Rivera said.

In the weeks since, Rivera said not much has changed in his life but he has noticed that more people notice him.

“I’ve been good. Everybody says hi to me,” he said.

It took several hours for firefighters to contain the blaze that damaged six homes on Second St. in Minersville on the afternoon of April 14.

That day was certainly and hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a person like Rivera. But for people like Melochick and Heffron, as firefighters, they see situations like they saw on April 14 too often.

Melochick is with Mountaineer Hose Co. and has been a firefighter for 32 years. Heffron, with Minersville Fire & Rescue, has been volunteering since about 2015.

Melochick said he remembers it well. But the award he received on Tuesday night was rather bittersweet considering the fact that one man ultimately lost his life afterward because of it.

“It’s not exactly what I want to be getting it for,” he said. “It means something bad happened.

This isn’t the first time he’s been honored as a Minersville Citizen of the Year but as he noted, he’s won it because of something tragic that’s happened.

“When we arrived, we saw one person standing there, which was Oscar, who was up there helping, not knowing there was two other people. We thought we were going to go shoot a ladder up, go get him and come right down. To see people hanging on the roof, you know, made it that much harder,” he said.

Melochick was the firefighter who initially went up on a ladder and eventually brought Ramirez and a woman down off the roof of the burning buildings.

“We were fortunate enough to get up and grab them and do our best to get them out of there,” he said.

Heffron was next up on the roof and he was tasked with not only helping get the two people off the roof, but also his fellow firefighter.

“Seeing him (Melochick) and I just knew that I had to get up there to help him and also the citizens,” Heffron said. “We did what we could and did the best we could.

On receiving the award on Tuesday, Heffron echoed Melochick’s thoughts on it.

“It’s an honor but it’s usually due to circumstances we can’t control and we don’t really want to be in those positions but we do what we can do,” Heffron said.

Both firefighters agreed that while they were singled out for their actions that April day, credit goes to the entire Minersville Fire Dept.

“It was a team effort. Everybody did their part. And if they didn’t do that, we couldn’t do what we did,” Melochick said.


Subscribe to Coal Region Canary

Get email updates from Coal Region Canary by becoming a subscriber today. Just enter your email address below to get started!

Support Coal Region Canary

Like our reporting and want to support truly local news in Schuylkill County? Your small donations help. For as little as $5, your contribution will allow us to cover more news that directly affects you. Consider donating today by hitting the big yellow button below ...

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *