March 25--A Saylorsburg woman who lost everything in a blaze late Sunday night says that she believes it was not accidental.
Patricia Richline Margl is recovering from a fast-moving fire that destroyed her rented home in Saylors Lake Estates. No one was hurt in the fire, but her two dachshunds and a kitten did not survive.
"I can replace everything else, but I can't replace them. They were like my children," she said.
Margl said she was returning home from work around 11:15 Sunday night to find her home engulfed in flames.
Crews were able to put out what was described as a massive inferno before it damaged any other houses, but Margl's home was destroyed.
Margl said she was working just a few minutes away at a convenience store in Saylorsburg. Her son came to pick her up, and when they returned, the house was engulfed.
Based on information from her neighbors, Margl believes that someone set the fire. She acknowledged that her son may have information that could assist investigators, but Andy Vanbilliard Jr. is at large after skipping a hearing in a DUI case in Northampton County.
"My son has to cooperate," she said.
Neighbors said that rumors were flying about a car quickly fleeing the development just as the blaze started.
Neighbors Christine Gerlach and Cindy Quick didn't know anything about what led to the fire, but they described an explosive, loud bang around 11 p.m.
"I thought a car had hit the pole out here. That's how loud it was," Gerlach said. "And just that quick, the whole house was engulfed."
Neighbors noted how quickly the fire spread to the whole house, and the intensity with which it burned.
"I've seen plenty of fires, but this was like a Hollywood set," Gerlach said.
Quick lives just across the lane. She said embers had rained down near her home and on the trees. Next door, the split-rail fence was burned, grass was singed and the vinyl siding melted off the framing.
"I'm lucky. I just had some windows shattered," Quick said. "But it was like a hailstorm of flame."
They said burning embers fell on homes as much as 100 feet away from the fire. Firefighters also had to put out a small fire that spread beneath the grass, nearly igniting another home.
"The wind was so bad last night," Gerlach said. "There were guys running around with fire extinguishers."
On Monday, neighbors brought flowers to Margl as she surveyed the damage at her home.
She said that she has renter's insurance, which she hopes will cover the material value of some of her possessions. But she is still reeling from the loss of her beloved dachshunds.
"I'm really upset about the animals," she said.
Her mother, Rita Richline, joined her at the scene. She said she had received a call from her daughter in the middle of the night, and she had assumed that it was something to do with Margl's daughter, who is pregnant with a baby due in early April.
"She called me going on 12 last night," Richline said. "I thought my granddaughter went into labor."
Co-workers at the Sunoco on Route 115 said that Margl is a conscientious co-worker who often helps out her colleagues.
Margl is staying with family in Northampton County. Family members are putting together donations. Like a good mother, Richline pointed out that Margl is tall in stature, so anyone donating clothes might want to opt for gift cards.
"She really worked for everything she had in that house," Richline said.
Blue Ridge Hook and Ladder, Kunkletown, West End and Wind Gap fire companies, West End Ambulance and Met-Ed responded.
A state police fire marshal was contacted.
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