EAST STROUDSBURG — On August 5, 2014, Judy Booker was sleeping when she heard loud noises outside of her home on Lackawanna Avenue in East Stroudsburg.
A double-block home and a string of row homes less than 30 feet away were filled with flames.
“At the time when we actually got outside, the whole front porch and bottom floor was on fire. It was pretty engulfed,” said Booker.
Five years later, all that remains is a fenced-in empty lot.
Melissa Melone lives next to it.
“We had a lot of good neighbors that lived over there. I wish the fire never happened. It kind of feels empty on the block without them here,” said Melone.
Fire officials believed a resident of an apartment building fell asleep while smoking in bed, and that’s what started the fire. It left 22 people without a place to live. Two people had to jump from a second-floor roof to escape. Four people were injured.
“A few of them were friends of ours. A couple of them jumped. They didn’t even know they were hurt because they were so scared,” said Booker.
“I remember when I came home around 4 in the morning, my grandson was crying, just look at everyone. Thank God everyone got out safe,” said Francesco Andriulli, East Stroudsburg.
The building that was here was only torn down just last year. People who still live on this street admit they were happy to see it go.
“It was a bit of an eyesore. It did bring back some of the memories like of everyone that lived there. I said they just got to tear it down already,” said Melone.
There are no plans for the empty lot right now.
People who live on this block tell Newswatch 16, they hope it turns into a playground for children in the neighborhood.