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Pennsdale Man Succumbs in Fire

By Staff | Feb 15, 2009

Richard T. Bower, was found in a room at the rear of the 21/2-story structure at 390 Peter Gray Lane early last Saturday morning when flames consumed the 150-year-old house. (Knier)

From Staff Reports

A 33-year-old Pennsdale area man, formerly of Selinsgrove, died in an blaze Saturday morning that destroyed a property owned by his family along Peter Gray Lane, just south of Muncy, in Muncy Creek Township, according to state police.

The victim, identified as Richard T. Bower, was found in a room at the rear of the 21/2-story structure at 390 Peter Gray Lane, known as Twin Springs, off of Susquehanna Trail. “It looks like he was trying to get out,” but was overcome with smoke, Lycoming County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr., said. Bower was discovered facedown at the room’s doorway, which led to the front half of the house, Kiessling added.

Bower was pronounced dead of smoke inhalation and severe burns. Kiessling said it is the first fatal fire in Lycoming County this year.

Fire officials said motorists on Interstate 180 spotted flames coming from the home and called 911. State Police Fire Marshal Cpl. Nicholas A. Loffredo said the fire did not appear to be suspicious, but the cause remains under investigation.

Bower, a former Pennsylvania College of Technology student, had moved back to the Pennsdale area from Selinsgrove about two years ago.

Sources said Bower has an 8-year-old daughter, who lives in Selinsgrove with her mother.

The home has been in Bower’s family since the mid-1950s when his late grandparents, William and Minnie Barlow, bought the historical brick house, according Bower’s relatives. The home was built in 1840 by the original landowner, Peter Gray, William Barlow said he and his sister, Vogt, and their two other siblings, Chris Barlow of Muncy, and another sister, Beth Bitting of the Pittsburgh area, inherited the property two years ago.

In addition to the township, firefighters from Muncy, Picture Rocks and Pennsdale responded on the initial alarm. Additional equipment and manpower from Watsontown, Hughesville, Montoursville and Clinton Township were called to the blaze, which was declared under control at 5:50 a.m.

There were no indication of any properly-installed working smoke alarms inside the home, investigators said.