Liberty couple loses everything in fire

LIBERTY – The ice storm that struck the region overnight Monday caused a power outage here that may have been the cause of a fire that destroyed the Jackson Township home of Arnold and Mary Way and took the lives of their two Boston terriers, Baby and Precious.

Arnold, 70 and Mary, 64, suffered burns as they escaped from their burning mobile home at 1981 Brion Road, said Liberty Fire Chief Andrew O’Conners.

“Arnold was treated and released at Williamsport (Regional Medical Center) for second-degree burns and Mary is still at the Lehigh Valley Medical Center. She will need surgery for her burns, which are second and third degree,” O’Conners said.

Though O’Conners could not confirm the cause of the fire, but he did say it started in the front of the trailer home after the power had gone out around midnight. Officials have a “pretty good idea” what caused it, he said.

O’Conners said the power was off when they arrived on scene and it came back on around 3 a.m.

In a telephone interview Thursday from her hospital bed, Mary said she was sure it was an overheated wood stove that started the fire.

She said they were awakened around 2 a.m. to smoke and flames after a wood stove they were using to heat their mobile home caught on fire.

“The power had went off and the stove overheated because the blower shut off when the power went off,” she said.

Referring to her dogs as “her babies,” Mary said she tried to save them but failed.

“I tried to call the fire company but couldn’t get through because I didn’t have a direct line – I was using a cell phone, so I had to run to my neighbors, but I didn’t try to go back in after that,” she said.

“We lost everything, but it could have been a lot worse,” she added.

Mary is scheduled to have skin graft surgery on her back, arms and feet today and will be in the hospital at least a week after that.

She said family and friends in the area will help her and her husband.

“The Ogdensburg church has a parsonage that is open and they said we can stay there ’til we find a place,” she said.

About 40 firefighters responded to the fire, with 25 from Liberty, Blossburg, Morris, Hepburnville and Mansfield on scene and Wellsboro and Morris standing by. Canton manned Liberty’s station during the fire, O’Conners said.

Despite the icy roads, O’Conners said there was no problem with the water supply from tankers on the scene, which was about five miles outside of Liberty.

No one else was injured in the fire, he added.

The fire department will hold a benefit dinner for the family as soon as Mary is out of surgery, O’Conners said.