Cat saves elderly couple from Jersey Shore fire

JERSEY SHORE – After being awakened in the middle of the night by her cat, 69-year-old Sharon Fisher went downstairs to find her living room on Fisher Mountain Road ablaze.

She screamed for her husband to get out of the house and then bolted out the front door and went to her son’s nearby home, where a family member called 911 about 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

Unbeknownst to Sharon, her husband, Ronald Fisher Sr., apparently heard her screams, kicked out a second-floor bedroom window and dove out to escape smoke and flames that quickly were spreading throughout the Piatt Township house.

The 71-year-old Fisher landed on a carport roof and then slid to the ground, according to emergency personnel.

“I knew it was bad. I could see an orange glow and a black cloud in the sky from Main Street,” Tiadaghton Valley Regional Police Patrolman Michael Crawford said, referring to the fire.

He raced to the scene, about two miles from the borough, after a dispatcher reported there was someone trapped in the house.

“When I got there, everything was on fire. The windows had already blown out and there were flames shooting out of every window. The bushes were on fire. The sidewalk was on fire. A carport on the south side of the house was burning,” Crawford said.

A very distraught Sharon Fisher already had returned to the house and was standing just a few feet from the flames. She pleaded with the officer to go into the burning home and get her husband.

“I thought there was no way I can go into the house. However, I didn’t tell her that,” Crawford said.

“I went up to the woman and grabbed her by the arms to get her away from the fire,” the officer said.

Several loud popping noises were heard inside the house as the woman, wrestling with her emotions, struggled with the officer because she wanted so desperately to reach her husband, who she believed was trapped in the inferno.

“It was scary. I was getting hit by what I thought initially were pieces of wood. It was ‘pop, pop, pop, pop.’ It turned out to be some kind of ammunition,” Crawford said.

“You have to get my husband. You have to save him,” Fisher pleaded with the officer.

“I told her that we had to get back or we could get hurt. I told her that I would do what I could,” Crawford said. “The situation was just so overwhelming.”

“She is the bravest, strongest woman I have ever known,” Crawford said.

As the officer firmly moved her out of harm’s way, there was a sudden explosion that knocked both of them to the ground.

“I clearly thought this was it. I thought we were going to burn (up),” Crawford said. “Maybe it was a backdraft. There was this strong wind that pushed me one way and pulled me another.”

Moments after Crawford managed to move the woman about 50 to 60 yards away from the home, an elderly man with burns on his face, beard and arms approached Fisher.

“It’s my husband,” the overjoyed woman said.

The two embraced, Crawford said.

Paramedics were on the scene within minutes and the couple was placed in an ambulance and taken to the Jersey Shore Hospital.

“We don’t know what the explosion was. Firemen said it could have been gunpowder, gas or oxygen tanks,” Crawford said, adding that the husband uses oxygen for a medical condition.

Independent Hose Fire Capt. Bob Cowfer said volunteer firefighters battled the fire for nearly two hours before bringing under control.

Due to the intensity of the flames, firefighters had to fight the fire from the outside.

“There were several explosions going off for about 30 minutes,” Cowfer said.

Firefighters from the borough, Antes Fort, Nippenose Valley, Old Lycoming Township, Woodward Township, as well as Clinton County volunteers from Avis, Woolrich and Wayne Township fought the blaze.

It was unknown if the cat that awoke Sharon got out.

A state police fire marshal was expected to be on the scene this morning in an attempt to determine the cause of the fire.

While Sharon Fisher was released from the hospital, her husband was expected to be admitted overnight for observation. The two will stay with family, fire officials said.