More Than 200 Inmates Relocated After Massive Prison Fire In Sunbury

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

SUNBURY -- Flames and smoke could be seen billowing out of the top of the Northumberland County Prison after a fire broke out around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday in Sunbury.

As firefighters battled the massive blaze, the staff at the prison worked quickly to remove the 208 inmates who were housed inside.

“Obviously the inmates, we need to make sure they`re secured. Law enforcement did a really good job. We had a lot of law enforcement agencies, state department of corrections, state police,” said Sunbury Fire Chief Ken Kipple.

Under heavy security, those prisoners were first brought to a nearby church to stay warm, then taken by bus to two other prisons, SCI Muncy and SCI Coal Township.

The warden said his employees ensured all inmates were accounted for.

“Honestly, some really quick thinking staff printed out inmate rosters and as we were placing them over here in the church basement, we accounted for them, counted for them when they were leaving, where they were going,” said Warden Bruce Kovach.

Fire crews had to tackle the fire from above once being inside the building became unsafe. The roof of one part of the complex collapsed. The fire chief said it was a tough battle from the start.

“The biggest challenge is it`s a secure facility which makes it a lot harder for us to access areas, but we got the keys and we got access and we got to where we needed to be,” said Kipple.

The female inmates were taken to the state prison in Muncy in Lycoming County; the male inmates were taken to the state prison in Coal Township near Shamokin.

All 208 prisoners got out unharmed.

“I would like to commend the inmate population also because they followed instructions. They actually helped one another and they made the evacuation easy,” said Kovach.

Officials say the prison is a total loss and will no longer be able to house inmates.

There is no word on injuries or the cause of the fire.

MORE: Community Reacts After Prison Fire


  • Dean

    Thank God no one was hurt. The prison was an embarrassment to the county and now forces us to fix an ancient problem. For the people who wished the inmates would have burned, I’ll pray for your healing.

  • Just_The_Truth

    WNEP Channel 16 TV Breaking News…………Northumberland county property owners see double digit property tax millage increases in 2016.

  • Banananas

    Wait, so prisons just “look” like they’re made out of stone from the outside, but are really made of cardboard, sticks and Lego’s on the inside? And they can burn in the middle of the day with a taxpayer funded staff on guard (see what I did there)? HowDafuq does that happen? Permanent housing? Just send them to one of those empty malls or hospitals that are closing down all around us, put a sign on the front that says, “Free Bath Salts” then sit back and watch it go to maximum capacity faster than a politician can vote themselves a raise @ midnight. Problem is now moot.

  • Bradford County Resident

    Luckily someone printed off a roster of who & how many people should be evacuated…..could have been a real catastrophe having unaccounted people….glad everyone is safe.

  • Meaghan

    I personally know how what it is like to evacuate less than a hundred juveniles from a secured facility during a fire and I commend the correction officers for getting 208 adults out safely.

  • Mike

    The county is in desperate need of a new prison, but could never afford one in a million years. Check Vinny’s pockets for a book of matches. lol

  • Anna Nymus

    Don’t worry, Ashley I’m sure they got your boyfriend out. No need to get testy. Everybody has an opinion.

    • ashley

      wow you must be a real piece of scum, you should of bin there and bin in a cell they forgot to open. let you burn!!!! that’s someones family in there
      your more of a low life them then them addicts.

      • ashley

        its not just addicts in there this county puts ppl in there even for minor charges but it really don’t matter who is in there they are human and you don’t wish that on anyone for real ppl if you had a loved one in there you wouldn’t be saying let it burn that is just sick to say

    • Derrick

      Ryan addiction is a disease. Maybe if they stopped locking up all these people with this disease and started educating simple minded people like you there wouldnt be such scum on this earth like you. Grow up and start really looking into the disease of addiction maybe you’ll learn something.!!!

      • My Dog Is Smarter Than You

        Lack of personal responsibility and blaming everyone else for your problems is also a disease that is taking over this country. Do the crime do the time.

      • Judy

        Thank you Derrick for your comment. It’ very easy for us to judge others, until you have a family member or someone you love dearly get caught up in this situation. Family members love these people and reading all the negative comments about the demise of these beings only adds more pain and heartache for the family. May God bless you for looking on these individuals as human beings that made a mistake and need the opportunity to reconstruct their lives.

Comments are closed.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.