The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 15, 2013

Two homeless following second Penn Street fire in Sunbury

By Rick Dandes
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — A city house next to one in which a 53-year-old man was killed in a Tuesday night fire was destroyed by a blaze early Thursday.

The two fires were connected, Sunbury Fire Chief Mike Rhoads said Thursday night.

The blaze at 1005 Penn St., which killed Keith Bordner, who used a wheelchair and could not escape, caused the second fire at 1003 Penn St., Rhoads said.

“But at this point, we can’t determine exactly what sparked the second fire,” he said. “It is highly unusual for two fires this intense, separated by about 24 hours, to occur.”

Two state fire marshals will investigate the second fire. The first was caused by an electrical outlet and was deemed accidental, Rhoads said.

The second fire began around 1:30 a.m. Thursday, and was much more intense than the first blaze, Rhoads said.

“I had to put out three alarms,” he said. “This fire threatened seven homes.”

Two people who lived at 1003 Penn St. escaped safely, Rhoads said. The homes were not a duplex.

Fire companies from three counties assisted the Sunbury Fire Department.

“There are too many to mention, but we had personnel assisting us from three counties, Montour, Snyder and Northumberland,” Rhoads said.

The fire wasn’t deemed under control until 4:30 a.m., Rhoads said.

Northumberland County Coroner James F. Kelley, who was at the scene Tuesday night, ruled Bordner’s death as being from “thermal injuries” and accidental.

Bordner was pronounced dead in the living room, Kelley said.

Bordner was the first person to die in a fire in Sunbury since August 2008, when Barbara Kunkle, 70, was killed at her home on North Fourth Street.