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.