Massive blaze destroys
Mangino home in Mahoningtown
By DEBBIE WACHTER MORRIS
New Castle News
To some it was just another vacant house.
But to Dee Matarazzo and her cousin, Connie (Frigone) Mangino, a fire that consumed the two-story white frame house at 21 Lacock St. in Mahoningtown on Monday destroyed a place full of treasured family memories.
Matarazzo was born in the house 72 years ago, then her family moved next door when she was baby. Mangino lived in the house for 65 years and raised her family there.
The fire broke out shortly before 3:30 in the afternoon.
Flames leapt into the sky and clouds of rolling black smoke billowed into the air as the blaze burned out of control of New Castle firefighters.
The fire spread from the house to an adjoining brick storage build, becoming more ferocious and destroying the building and its contents.
Spectators who gathered shared Mahoningtown memories. People walked to the scene from various neighborhoods, trudging through snow and across railroad tracks, bundled in warm clothing.
Some stayed for a couple of hours, watching firefighters finally knock down the roaring blaze using massive amounts of water and a 100-foot-tall tower truck.
Three firefighters wearing air packs and manned with hoses knelt at a side entrance spraying water inside while heavy smoke billowed out the door.
The front of the brick building eventually collapsed, knocking a hose off a hydrant. As firemen knelt to reconnect it, chunks of burning debris fell a few feet from them, threatening their safety.
Mangino, now living in Neshannock Township, had raised three children in the house. She said last night she stayed home when she heard, because it would have been too sad for her to watch.
“I feel bad about it,” she said. “I lived there all my life, except for awhile after I got married. I have fond memories and so many pictures.”
Mangino recalled that she would always have large family dinners there during the holidays.
“That stays with me. We were a happy family in that house. It was just a beautiful place to live and I want to keep those memories,” she said.
Mangino, a widow, lived in the house for 65 years, and remodeled it not long before she moved.
Her son Matt, the former Lawrence County district attorney, also was saddened to hear his family’s former home was gone.
“I lived there until I got married,” he said last night, “and I have a lot of fond memories there ... A lot of our neighbors were relatives.”
The house was more than 100 years old, he said.
The house and storage building are owned by Jeff Suisi. The most recent occupants were a couple with children who moved two weeks ago, according to neighbors. They said Suisi used the building for storage.
Most homes in Mahoningtown are old, and many of their occupants were born and raised in them, then remained to raise their own families after their parents died.
Paul Rosta of Lacock Street lived in Union Township for awhile but eventually returned to his family’s home. He commented that the flavor of the neighborhood has been slowly changing and that young people come and go in some of the homes that have been sold.
Matarazzo’s house is about 20 feet from the house that burned. A seamstress, she has a shop in Mahoningtown and was at work when a neighbor stopped to tell her the house next door was on fire.
“I looked out the window and thought it was my house,” she said. “I was shaking like a leaf.”