Fatal Fire: 5 East Penn Students Homeless
A fatal blaze in an Emmaus apartment building on Sunday left a high school student presumed dead and five other students homeless.
An Emmaus High School student is presumed to be one of the dead.
Five East Penn students were left homeless, according to Superintendent Thomas L. Seidenberger.
The week began with chilling uncertainty as school officials tried to assess the impact of the fatal blaze.
“It was a little tense [Monday]. It was tough trying to nail down the facts," Seidenberger told Patch in a telephone interview.
Until about 11 a.m. Monday, one East Penn student—a sixth-grader at Lower Macungie Middle School (LMMS)—was unaccounted for. He later turned out to be safe.
Seidenberger eventually learned that six East Penn students lived in the Fifth Street building that burned. Two Emmaus High School students and three LMMS students survived.
Late Monday, local media reported that one of the four dead is likely Emmaus High student Montana Twinning, 16, who perished along with his mother, Melissa.
“We have not received official confirmation [that it’s Montana],” Seidenberger said. “Based on all that we are hearing, it appears that that is the case.”
The Lehigh County Coroner’s Office is using dental records and possibly DNA to positively identify the badly burned bodies.
Grief counselors are available to assist students at the high school.
So far, Seidenberger said, LMMS students know that all of their classmates are safe; grief counselors will be made available at the middle school if needed.
“In the borough, it’s a very fluid situation. You don’t know who is friends with who. Montana attended Eyer [Middle School] and if they need services there, they will get help," Seidenberger said.
He added the district is focusing on trying to make sure that the students displaced by the blaze have the basic life necessities they need. The students who survived “were not hurt physically, as far as we know,” Seidenberger said.
Seidenberger has the following message for all East Penn families:
“If anyone suspects that a student is having trouble dealing with this tragedy, please call the student’s school guidance counselor immediately and services will be provided,” he said. “Problems can manifest themselves in any way, shape or form. Please, we urge parents to call us. The schools have trained professionals that can assist them in these unfortunate times.”