close
close

West Pittston firefighter was honored with the Carnegie Hero Award in 1909

June 3 – A large stable barn that once stood at Luzerne Avenue and Linden Street in West Pittston burned to the ground on March 24, 1907, killing three horses and twelve mules.

Only two mules and a horse could be saved.

The fire was discovered by two neighbors, Charles Tench and William Welch, who were both awakened at 3:15 a.m. by the glow of flames.

Tench and Welch simultaneously ran to the nearest fire at Wyoming and Luzerne Avenue to alert firefighters in West Pittston.

One of those firefighters, John C. Scureman, would save the life of 11-year-old Karl A. Kellar.

“After pulling firebox 71, Tench and Welch proceeded to wake members of the John Langford family, who were sleeping in their farmhouse and unaware of the fire in their stables,” the Wilkes-Barre Record reported on March 25, 1907.

Members of the Langford family ran and began a valiant effort to save the cattle.

“West Pittston Hose Co. responded quickly and did a good job, although the flames had made much progress before they arrived,” the Record reported.

Firefighters from the Eagle Hose Co. in Pittston also responded, but their services were not needed as the flames were approximately extinguished.

The fire was probably caused by a perpetrator who hid in the stables at night.

Flames damaged the electrical and telephone lines of the Citizen’s Electric Illuminating Co., which fell, striking Joseph Langford in the neck and the young boy Kellar.

West Pittston firefighter Scureman heard Kellar’s screams as he was electrocuted while standing in a puddle of water formed by runoff.

Scureman grabbed Kellar by the ankle to remove him from the power line and injured himself with an electric shock.

“John Scureman, a fireman, assisted the boy and he also received a severe shock and was confined to bed yesterday suffering from the effects,” the Record reported.

Kellar fell unconscious and his body went limp, but was revived by a doctor at the scene.

“Kellar’s condition was encouraging and, except for a burn on his hand where he grasped the wire, he will be better in a few days,” the Record reported.

More than two years after saving the young boy’s life, Scureman received the Carnegie Hero Award, a bronze medal for his heroism, in May 1909, although he would not receive the medal until July 1909.

“John C. Scureman, of 215 Exeter Ave., West Pittston, received a fine bronze medal, awarded for rescuing a young West Pittston man who came into contact with a live wire during a fire and was in danger of losing his life ,” the Record reported July 27, 1909.

In addition to the medal, Scureman also received $2,150.

After receiving the award, the medal was displayed in the window of the Grand Union Tea Co. store, where Scureman was employed as a salesperson.

Scureman died of pneumonia at his home on February 17, 1918.

Back To Top