Eric Frein in Custody

Three Boys Dead In House Fire Near Danville

UPDATE: Mourning Three Young Brothers Killed in a Fire

RUSH TOWNSHIP — Three boys are dead after a fire in Northumberland County early Friday, according to state police.

Flames gutted the home on South Smith Road near Danville around 1:00 a.m. despite the best efforts of more than 40 firefighters.

Investigators say, inside at the time were five members of the Dissinger family including three boys, ages 13, 7, and 2, who did not survive.

The Northumberland County coroner identified the victims as Daniel Dissinger, 13; Gavin Dissinger, 7; and Arthur Dissinger, 2; all brothers.

“We watched as they went through the rubble and pulled them out.  Three boys,” said property owner Merle Zimmerman. “It’s hard to see.”

Zimmerman rented the farm house to the family.  He says the Dissinger family had just started settling into their new home.

“They just moved in. they were just getting unpacked,” Zimmerman said. “Her husband had passed a couple of years ago, so she’s had it kind of rough. Now this.”

Zimmerman says the mother was at work when the fire started and one of the children was staying at a friend’s house. A 14-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy went to a neighbor’s house to get help.

“It’s very sad. I just couldn’t imagine. I was thinking of my own kids.”

The part of Northumberland County where this deadly fire broke out is a rural one.   The man living inside in the nearest home over the hill told Newswatch 16 that around 1:15 a.m. two of the kids from the house knocked on his door begging for help.

Emergency crews rolled in soon after and the two children who called for help were taken to a hospital for breathing in too much smoke.  Many driving by the scene were almost at a loss for words.

“There was just nothing left, completely gone,” said Ed Savidge.

The children in the Dissinger family went to school in the Danville Area School district. They’re holding fundraisers through the next week, and counseling to help the students and faculty with this loss.

“We will be having a crisis center open on Saturday from 9 to noon, staffed by our staff and we also have counselors that have volunteered from Berwick and also Milton,” said Danville Area Superintendent Cheryl Latorre.

The district is having a dress-down day Monday to raise money for the Dissinger family.

It’s also collecting food and clothing donations for the family.

A nearby church is giving the Dissingers a place to stay for at least a few days.

People continued to stop by the house throughout the day as news about the death of the three children spread throughout the community.

“A loss, but a loss of kids is just something that sits with you permanently.”

A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause.

26 comments

  • Eric Huntsinger

    Daniel, Gavin, Arthur…taken away from your family and friends, may you find that place where there is no more pain, weeping nor sorrow.

  • SSA

    DANVILLE — Two of Friday’s fire victims were among four children in the Dissinger family left alone by a babysitter at Hess Recreation Field near Danville a year ago, court records show.

    Gavin and Arthur Dissinger were 6- and 1-year-old at the time. Their mother had left them – along with a 9-year-old and 3-year-old sibling – in the care of a friend and her sister while she went to work at Original Italian Pizza in Danville, according to papers.

    The babysitter, Jessica Helwig, 27, told police she left the children at the field so they could watch their older brother practice with a baseball team. She thought the boy’s coach would take them home that afternoon, according to arrest papers filed at the time.

    But the baby had a soiled diaper in need of changing and the other children didn’t have warm clothing for the blustery April 3 day, a witness told police.

    Helwig was later prosecuted for child endangerment and ended up getting sentenced to 18 months’ probation. The children’s mother, Christine Dissinger, had thought Helwig’s sister would be watching her children, she told police. She never faced any charges.

    Helwig remains on supervision with no reported incidents since she was sentenced last September, Montour County Adult Probation Chief Jim Miller said.

    • Ashley Wester

      MONETARY DONATIONS: Make payable to:
      MCFCU For Benefit of Dissinger Family
      M-C Federal Credit Union
      230 Walnut St.
      Danville, PA 17821

  • A

    The 14 year old sister goes to Columbia Montour Vo-Tech. I know many of the shops are planning on having fundraisers so they can donate money as well. They are in our prayers.

  • Roxanne

    My heart goes out to this family, especially the ones who survived this tragedy, I’m sure the mom is feeling so much pain and guilt, and the kids are feeling the same thing, I know as I had a friend who lost a sister years ago through a tragedy and felt guilty for surviving. to the mother, YOUR NOT TO BLAME, this was not her fault although I’m sure she thinks it is. A mother always feels she’s to blame when something happens to her children, it’s a natural feeling, but all we can do show her compassion and support to help her through this time of sadness, I know she is in my prayers tonight, so are the children who survived. At least boys went together to be with their father, now they will wait until such time that mom and siblings join them in heaven. God bless them all

  • Rusty

    Is there a bank where donations can be mailed for this family? If there is, please post it asap. Thanks!

    • Jacinta

      I know that Repeats the children’s consignment store in Danville is having a sale to raise funds for the family.They might be able to accept donations as well?

    • Ashley Wester

      MONETARY DONATIONS: Make payable to:
      MCFCU For Benefit of Dissinger Family
      M-C Federal Credit Union
      230 Walnut St.
      Danville, PA 17821

  • Michala

    The Dissinger’s were a family friend to me and my parents. They used to live the 2nd house down from mine. From the moment they moved in we were all close. When her husband died it was a tragic moment for all of us. After awhile she had it tough moving place to place trying to settle down again. The last time I saw them was in December. They came down to visit since they moved to Danville. The boys will always be in my heart I will miss them so much. They were all great kids. Any other time that I saw that kids did not make it out of a fire it hurt. Its so much different when you know the people though. So I would like to say I feel everybody’s pain who lost friends, family etc. in a fire. I love you Dissinger’s and May my prayers help you through this.

  • Lorie

    So sad. Daniel was a sweet boy and will be sadly missed. Prayers to the family. Does anyone know where you can drop off donations for this family? I’m sure they need clothing and basic needs.

  • EMMA

    I’m so very sorry for the loss of these boys’. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family. Such a terrible tragedy. Those boys’ are now beautiful Angels.

  • Braylen

    Daniel was a friend of mine in school. When the school told me I broke down in tears. I will always remember Daniel for the rest of my days. I am extremely sad of this tragity but him and his brothers are in a better place now. RIP.

  • Baylee

    I know this family. I am best friends with the daughter that was trying to get help. God bless her and her family. <3 love you!

  • Amy

    How heartbreaking…thoughts and prayers for the family, and may the mother’s 3 lost angels watch over her from heaven….

    • Karen A. Krohn

      Wow! Do you really think she wanted to leave the children home alone? Do you think it would have been better to put the children in the system and have them separated from their own family? And than if something happened to one of the ‘homes’ the children were placed in you would have said the mom should have kept her children together. Sometimes people have no choice and 14 along with a 13 year old is old enough. Tragedy happens She lost her husband and was trying to keep her family together. I command her and I will say a prayer for her and the surviving children. Try a little compassion.

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