The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

December 10, 2013

FIRE KILLS TEEN

7th-grader posts pic online just before blaze

By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item

— SHAMOKIN — A 13-year-old Shamokin honor roll student was killed in her third-floor bedroom Tuesday during a four-alarm blaze that spread to nearby buildings and left the stairs in her home like “a ball of fire,” a police chief said.

Melissa Pangburn was pronounced dead in her bedroom at 5 S. Rock St. by Northumberland County Coroner James Kelley at 12:45 p.m.

“Everybody did everything they could,” Shamokin police Chief Ed Griffiths said. “But there was nothing anybody could do.”

Melissa was a seventh-grader at Shamokin Middle School and was on the honor roll as of Nov. 24, according to school records. She posted a self-portrait on Facebook on Tuesday morning, shortly before the fire began, with the caption “Bored.”

The fire began shortly after 11 a.m. at 5 S. Rock St., near the intersection of Rock and Chestnut streets, according to Northumberland County 911, and quickly spread to include neighboring buildings, which made up 1 through 9 S. Rock St. — two double homes and a single home.

The single home at 9 S. Rock St. was unoccupied and being renovated, according to neighbors at the scene. There was no word about the occupants of the other homes as of deadline.

Fire shot from the roof of the home that made up 5 S. Rock St. and 7 S. Rock St. Smoke could be seen for blocks heading toward the neighborhood and was “very intense” Griffiths said.

“You couldn’t make entry into the home,” Griffiths said.

Firefighters from several companies — including Mount Carmel, Shamokin, Kulpmont and Elysburg — worked at the front and the back of the buildings, attempting to extinguish flames that quickly enveloped the rowhouse-style homes.

A neighbor was the first to notice the fire and alerted officials and the victim’s family, who were able to escape safely, Griffiths said. Another neighbor tried to make contact with Melissa, but was unable to get her out of the home, Griffiths said.

A neighbor watching the fire from his home across the street was visibly emotional, saying he didn’t want to talk about the blaze, saying only: “I feel so bad for the family.”

The cause of the fire has not been determined, Griffiths said. State police were on the scene at approximately 12:15 p.m.

Following toxicology testing at Geisinger Shamokin Area Community Hospital, Kelley attributed Melissa’s death to  carbon monoxide toxicity."