Fire consumes home of elderly couple, good Samaritans assist
MUNCY – Rushing to a reported house fire Tuesday morning on the Susquehanna Trail, David Brown, an assistant chief with the Warrior Run Area Fire Co., was two miles from the scene when he could see thick smoke in the sky.
When he arrived at the Northumberland County home of Richard and Jeane Weigel at 10:45 a.m., about five miles south of here, the elderly couple already was being assisted by passersby who had stopped to help when they saw the fire.
Jeane Weigel safely fled the house at 6845 Susquehanna Trail after discovering the back part of the near-century old home on fire. Her husband already was out in the yard at the time.
Among those who stopped to help were Seth Depasqua and his wife. While his wife called 911, Depasqua jumped out of his truck and ran around to the back of the house, where Richard Weigel was being helped by another man.
“We helped him get to safety and asked if his wife was still in the house. He didn’t quite know. He appeared disoriented. He told us ‘I don’t know where she is,’ ” Depasqua said.
After safely moving the man further away from the fire, Depasqua and the second man ran around to the front of the house and went inside and started hollering for the woman.
“We were thinking that the woman was still inside. We really didn’t know. The smoke was horrible. As we went in, we both hit the floor. We got as far as the living room, but we couldn’t stand it. We started choking. We immediately left the house,” Depasqua said.
The two men bolted to a barn to get some ladders. The two were going to try to enter the house through an upstairs window, but just then Jeane Weigel was spotted coming across the road, walking toward the house.
She had gone to the nearby Penn American Inc., where an employee called 911 for her.
“We were relieved to see she was OK,” Depasqua said.
He and the other man tried to move the couple’s car out from underneath a carport – which also was on fire – “but we couldn’t put the gear in neutral. So we just let it sit there,” Depasqua said.
Volunteer firefighters from four counties – Northumberland, Lycoming, Union and Montour – battled the fire for more than 90 minutes before getting it under control.
The first firefighters on the scene advanced a hose into the home through the front door, working inside for about 15 minutes before Brown pulled them out because conditions were rapidly deteriorating.
Shortly after Brown ordered the crew of firefighters out, a section of the roof collapsed.
No one was injured in the fire.
Firefighters drafted water from two ponds in the area.
A state police fire marshal was expected to visit the scene today as the investigation into the origin and cause of the blaze continued.
The Weigels, who lived in the home for 50 years, were staying with friends in the borough.