Victim of deadly apartment fire in Pottstown identified

Annie McCormick Image
Friday, December 23, 2016
Victim of deadly Pottstown fire identified
A family member identified the victim of Friday's deadly fire in Pottstown, Pa.

POTTSTOWN, Pa. (WPVI) -- Firefighters battled a two-alarm apartment blaze that claimed a life in Pottstown, Montgomery County just two days before Christmas.

The fire broke out at 1:30 a.m. Friday in the 400 block of East High Street.

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December 23, 2016: The fire broke out at 1:30 a.m. in the 400 block of East High Street in Pottstown, Pa.

Arriving crews found heavy smoke and flames coming from the second floor of the building, which contained a number of apartments.

A second alarm was quickly sounded as residents scrambled to get out.

"I see the smoke, I say kick it in, kick it in," said resident Barbara Mitchell. "A big (cloud) of smoke comes rushing out at us, and we can't get him out."

Mitchell told Action News how she and several others tried to save their neighbor from his second floor apartment.

It was chaos as Mitchell and another resident, Carlos Ortiz, worked to rescue their children.

"I grabbed them," said Ortiz. "We didn't grab anything else, grabbed the little ones and got out of there."

"We made entry, knocked down the fire and made the discovery," said Pottstown Fire Chief Richard Lengel. Firefighters found "a victim in the fire room, already deceased," Lengel said.

Gary Juck arrived on the scene hours later, identifying his brother, 50-year-old David Juck, as the victim of the fatal blaze.

"He was supposed to come over for Christmas," said Juck. "He was a really good person. He'd do anything for anybody."

Fire investigators believe the fire started in the second floor apartment where Juck lived.

They say careless smoking could have sparked the blaze, but the investigation is ongoing.

Not all of the apartments were destroyed.

The American Red Cross of Eastern Pennsylvania tells Action News it is assisting 17 people from 6 families who have been displaced by the fire.