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Neighbors Rushed to Help Victims in Deadly Fire

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WILLIAMSPORT --  Good Samaritans rushed to save people trapped in a burning home on Hepburn Street early Sunday morning.

One woman died and two people were hurt. The woman killed in that fire was a real estate agent. Her husband and another woman were injured in the fire before a group of neighbors rushed to the rescue.

Neighbors said Saturday night before the fire, Terra Smith and her husband held a party in their backyard, complete with tiki torches, fireworks, and a campfire. A few hours later the back of the home errrupted in flames.

While flames consumed the home on Hepburn Street in Williamsport, neighbors could hear fireworks going off and a propane tank exploding.

"We heard people screaming. I walked out my back deck and their whole back deck was on fire so I quickly ran out front and said, 'Call 911,'" said neighbor Manuel Baez.

Brett Wheeland saw the fire and raced to help, banging on the door.

"They stuck their head out and were yelling for help. It was getting so bad I said, 'You may have to jump. If you can't get out another way, you need to jump,'" said Wheeland.

Tyler Fowler ran to get this ladder and brought it to the burning home where he could see Jason Smith was still at the window.

"We kept telling him to come down, but he looked like he was in shock. He just had a look on his face like he didn't know what was going on," Baez said. "He kept saying, 'She's still in there, she's still in there.'"

Wesley Smith of Williamsport climbed up on top of a small awning to the window.

"He was holding the window open, and the smoke was coming out. I lifted it out and I was telling him, 'You've got to get out of the house now or you're not going to make it,'" said Smith.

Firefighters arrived and rescued Jason, but Terra was still missing.

Neighbors said Terra Smith loved to be in her back yard complete with a swimming pool and even a movie screen for her guests. She also loved her dogs something that may have cost her her life. Firefighters told neighbors when they finally found Terra Smith's body, she was in a bathroom with her dogs.

"We were wondering why she wasn't at the window, my wife said, 'Maybe she went back in to get the animals.' And my wife was right. She did go back in to get the animals," said Baez.

Terra Smith was a former choir director who was equally enthusiastic about her new real estate career and was in the midst of renovating the home where she died.

Investigators determined that the fire started on a wood frame porch, where a combination propane gas/charcoal grill ignited some drapes.

Three dogs and one cat died in fire.

There were no working smoke detectors.

1 Comment

  • Fratboy

    Thanks, WNEP. This updated version is heartfelt and I am truly despondent over the loss of this young lady. Kudos to all those folks that risked their own lives. Obviously, she took shelter in the bathroom to save her dogs. I understand why she did that. She must have been a wonderful person. Condolences to her family. There is a special place in heaven for this woman.

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