By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
— SUNBURY — A 53-year-old city man who used a wheelchair became the first Sunbury resident to die in a house fire since 2008 when an electrical fire tore through his home Tuesday night.
Sunbury firefighters returned to the scene early this morning when a broken gas line sparked a new fire.
Today's fire developed at about 1:30 a.m., before spreading to an adjoining dwelling at 1003 Penn Street. Two people who lived in that home escaped safety, fire officials said.
Keith Bordner, 53, died late Tuesday night in the blaze at 1005 Penn St., Sunbury Fire Chief Mike Rhoads said. A state police fire marshal determined the cause of the fire to be electrical and accidental, Rhoads said Wednesday morning.
Northumberland County Coroner James F. Kelley, who was at the scene Tuesday night, ruled Bordner’s cause of death as being from “thermal injuries” and accidental in nature. Bordner was pronounced dead in the living room of the home, Kelley said.
The origin of the fire is thought to be an electrical outlet into which several cords were plugged, Rhoads said.
Three dogs also perished in the fire and a cat is missing, Rhoads said. However, according to a neighbor on the scene Wednesday, a pet turtle survived the blaze.
Bordner’s wife and son were displaced by the fire, but were receiving assistance from the SUN Area chapter of the American Red Cross, which was on the scene Tuesday evening, said Anne Smith, group spokeswoman.
The fire broke out shortly before 9 p.m. Flames erupted from the two-story structure within minutes as Sunbury firefighters fought furiously to contain the blaze to the one structure, protecting adjacent homes.
More than 50 personnel, including fire police, Sunbury police and state police troopers, assisted.
While crews were able to control the blaze Tuesday night, a small fire rekindled at the residence around 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, Rhoads said.
“It was very minor,” he said.
What was left of the home Wednesday morning was little more than a charred shell roped off by police tape.
In February 2008, Judith Lou Shade, 71, died in a house fire and in August, Barbara Kunkle, 70, died in an early morning fire at her home on North Fourth Street.