Aunt, Uncle of Lancaster firefighter die following early morning house fire

LANCASTER, Pa. --- UPDATE (February 19): The deaths of Lydia and Jose Montes have been ruled accidental.

PREVIOUSLY: "It's a sad day in Lancaster."

That's how Bureau of Fire Chief Scott Little described Thursday near the scene of a fatal house fire.

Just after four in the morning, fire crews rushed to the 700 block of Poplar Street in the Cabbage Hill neighborhood.

Chief Little said a neighbor called 911 after hearing smoke alarms, smelling smoke and seeing heavy flames.

“When the first engine turned the corner...they had fire blowing out of a second floor window," said Little.

The first crew that went inside found a person unconscious in a hallway, suffering from cardiac arrest.

Little said after crews removed that person from the home, additional crews went back inside and found another person in a bedroom doorway, also suffering from cardiac arrest.

Little said after life-saving efforts were performed on the scene, the two victims were rushed to Lancaster General Hospital, where they later died.

Lydia and Jose Montes, both 59, were identified as victims of a fatal fire in Lancaster on Thursday morning. (Photo provided by family member.)

The victims are identified as Lydia and Jose Montes, both 59.

Little said they are the aunt and uncle of one of Lancaster City's firefighters, who was off-duty at the time of the incident.

“The first thing is, obviously, taking care of our own. Making sure he has the right resources to get through a difficult time and know that we support him and his family and we’re here for them," said Little.

He also said bureau personnel will tend to whatever needs the fire fighter may have.

Also, county crisis intervention teams met with fire fighters who were on the scene of the incident Thursday morning.

Little said that's when they found out the victims were relatives of one of their own.

“It’s always difficult for firefighters to see outcomes like this when you gave it everything you had," said Little.

After speaking with the victim's nephew, he described them as "always full of life. Always wanting the family together whether there was a reason to celebrate or not."

Multiple agencies are investigating what caused the fire.

The Lancaster County Coroner says autopsies are scheduled for Friday.

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