Heartbreak After Deadly Fire in Northumberland County

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FRANKLIN TOWNSHIP -- With heavy hearts, students and parents walked out of Southern Columbia Area High School after learning some upsetting news.

Friends tell Newswatch 16 the woman who died in a fire near Elysburg was the school's field hockey coach Ellen Sosnoski. The coroner has not yet officially identified the victim.

Flames started early Saturday morning, gutting a two-family home in Ralpho Township in Northumberland County. It was one of the oldest buildings in the village of Overlook.

“It’s devastating. It really is devastating,” said Mearl Spotts of Overlook.

Neighbors describe how a woman who made it out of the fire desperately shouted, trying to save her friend trapped inside.

“I was trying to calm her, trying to make sure she didn't run back in because flames were already coming out of the front of the home,” said Dory Spotts.

Investigators say it appears the fire started in the kitchen on the first floor. The victim was found in an upstairs bathroom.

A team of state police fire marshals searched burned-out rooms trying to determine what started the flames. Two next-door neighbors did make it out.

Firefighters believe the place will have to be torn down.

Kayla Spotts and her mother Dory used to live in the house and were stunned to see the deadly fire.

“It is pretty heartbreaking,” she said.

Back at the high school, one father described the coach and mother as a good woman. The Southern Columbia Tigers are midway through their field hockey season, and Monday's game has been postponed.

In a statement, Superintendent Paul Caputo said:

"Although it has not yet been confirmed, we are operating under the impression that this sad news is indeed true as all evidence seems to be pointing that way."

Counselors are available for the field hockey team and others in the district.

The girls are scheduled to play Tuesday.


  • Scott

    To Get Real ….
    Yeah … There would have been just as much grief Get real !!!
    U are a narrow minded person to even say such a thing .., did U know her ? If not keep your mouth closed .. Better yet .. Go wash it out with soap… Someone has lost a daughter…

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