The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

News

April 7, 2014

Tragic fire unites communities

RIVERSIDE - The community has joined together to support a family where three brothers died in a fire early Friday morning.

Collections are being taken for the family of Christine Dissinger whose sons Arthur Willis Dissinger, 2; Gavin Arthur Dissinger, 7; and Daniel Gage Dissinger, 13, of 60 S. Smith Road in Rush Township, perished. Daniel was a sixth grader at the middle school and Gavin attended first grade at the Danville Primary School.

The church the family had attended — the Danville Mennonite Church — is helping along with the Good Samaritan Mission Center and David J. Thompson Mailing Corp. of Bloomsburg where Mrs. Dissinger, a widow, had worked about three weeks. The family had lived in the two-story rented farmhouse for a week.

The Danville Area School District is also collecting money and items for the family. Counseling was available Saturday at the middle school for anyone in need.

Counselors were also on hand Monday and will be available throughout the week, according to Danville Superintendent Cheryl Latorre.

Money received from a dress down day, along with monetary contributions received, totaled $2,651 and were deposited Monday at M-C Federal Credit Union in Danville where a fund has been established for the family, she said.

Any food, clothing and toys donated will be taken daily to the home where the Dissingers are staying through this week, Latorre said.

With a fund established for the family at M-C Federal Credit Union, the Mennonite church is asking contributions be forwarded there in lieu of flowers for the funeral service, said church Pastor Kevin Newswanger.

“We were assisting them because they were a needy family,” he said.

He said they had attended services at the church but were not members.

“We were still relating to their physical and financial needs before the fire,” he said of the church aiding them “sometimes more, sometimes less” the past three and a half years.

“They have an interest in our way of life and I understand are of the Mennonite faith,” said the pastor who will officiate at the funeral today. Friends may call from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. with the funeral following at 1:30 p.m. at the church at 420 Elysburg Road.

Newswanger said the media will be allowed to attend the service but no photographs will be permitted inside their meeting house.

He said Mrs. Dissinger, her daughters Kristyn, 14; Angel, 4; and son Ryan, 10; were staying with one of the families from the church the first two days and then a friend of Kristyn’s offered to have them spend the weekend with them.

“There are plenty of people reaching out. Our main interest is a message of comfort and Christ’s love going out,” the pastor said.

The morning of the fire, Kristyn and Ryan were able to escape and run for help at a nearby home. Angel was staying with friends.

Although one of the owners of the home said there was talk the cause of the blaze may have been from kerosene, State Police Fire Marshal Kirk Renn said Monday the cause remains undetermined.

He said he would not confirm nor deny anything about kerosene and wasn’t willing to comment about that. He also wouldn’t say where he suspected the fire started.

He doesn’t plan to return to the scene, where only the foundation and part of a chimney remain, but said he will continue to do more interviews.

Thompson Corp. President-Owner David J. Thompson said employees collected money for the family Monday. “I was deeply touched by their generosity. They work very hard and need their paychecks desperately,” he said.

When a tragedy occurs, or something like a birth takes place, a collection is taken up for the employee with the Thompson corporation matching what the workers contribute.

“I will consider giving her an extra week’s pay if that will help,” he said of Mrs. Dissinger.

He said a lot of the employees were very disturbed over the deaths of the young boys.

With her working third-shift and a new employee, he said he hadn’t met her yet. “It’s very sad,” he said.

The Good Samaritan Mission Center of Danville will be helping the family with furniture and appliances once they find a place to live, said board member Cleo Weader. The crisis division of the mission center can assist them with a down payment for the first month or with rent if needed, she said.

She started a collection on her own through friends and told them to make checks payable to the mission center and note the contributions were for the Dissinger family fund. She will be turning the checks over to the center’s treasurer.

Weader’s friends have given clothing for the two younger children. Weader said she planned Monday to take the clothing to the Dissingers along with large items received by the Danville district for the family. Friends got pajamas, socks, shoes, hygiene products and other items with the mission center able to fill in any of the gaps, she said.

Latorre estimated 20 to 30 people went to the middle school for counseling on Saturday. Thirty staff members were available. The local ministerium has been assisting.  “The ministerium has been wonderful,” she said. Counselors and school psychologists came from Berwick and Milton Friday and the Lewisburg district has called and offered assistance.

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