Newberry fire leaves 1 dead

IOANNIS PASHAKIS/sun-gazette The cause of a fire that began at 615 Poplar Street in Newberry is still under investigation. 613 Poplar Street, the other side of the double home, had no occupants at the time of the fire.

The cause of a house fire Sunday night in Newberry still is under investigation after taking the life of a resident, but investigators think it may have been an accident.

The fire that took the life of Ann Worthington, 68, of 615 Poplar St., did not involve foul play, according to Williamsport Bureau of Fire Chief Todd C. Heckman.

“We don’t believe it was started on purpose,” Heckman said. “That leaves us with an undetermined or accidental fire.”

Firefighters responded to the working structure fire at the two-story, half-double home at 9:03 p.m. When they arrived, units reported seeing heavy smoke throughout the house and flames showing from the building.

Firefighters first thought the building had been unoccupied. It took until firefighters were able to use power equipment to cut an opening in the building’s flat roof and clear the first floor, that they found the body of Worthington.

Worthington was pronounced dead at the scene and, according to Lycoming County Coroner, Charles E. Kiessling Jr., the cause of death was severe burns and smoke inhalation. Investigators currently are unsure if the owner of the building also lived in the home.

“As of today I can’t tell you if there were one or two people living there,” Heckman said.

The other double, which was also destroyed by the fire, has not been occupied since two previous residents were shot and killed in the home during a robbery on Halloween last year.

By 10:10 p.m. the fire was reported to be under control, according to Heckman. The damage to the house totaled about $100,000 including the contents.

“At this time the place is a total loss,” Heckman said. “It’s still under investigation. They are still digging.”