3 BROTHERS PERISH
SNYDERTOWN - Three young brothers were killed early Friday when fire burned their farmhouse to the ground, while two other siblings jumped out of a second-story window to safety.
The 1:20 a.m. blaze at rural 60 S. Smith Road near here left four other family members homeless, and a community in a state of shock.
State Police Fire Marshal Kirk Renn from the Milton station inspected what was left of the home and ruled the cause undetermined. The origin remains unknown, too, as the investigation continues.
Pronounced dead at the scene by Northumberland County Coroner James F. Kelley were Daniel Gage Dissinger, 13; Gavin Arthur Dissinger, 7, and Arthur Willis Dissinger, 2.
Riverside Fire Chief Clifford "Butch" Kriner, who directed firefighting efforts, said the two-story house was "all but in the basement" when firefighters arrived. There was no way to save the house or the lives of the three children, he said.
"It was gone. The only thing we could do was put it out," Kriner said.
The heart-breaking incident is a "struggle for all of us," he said.
Kelley said the cause of death for all three boys was thermal injuries, while the manner of death was accidental.
Mother at work
Kristin Dissinger, 14, and her 10-year-old brother, Ryan, jumped out a window and ran to a neighbor's house, from where 9-1-1 was called. They were injured and transported by ambulance to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, where they underwent emergency room treatment before being released.
All five children reportedly were on the second floor of the home when the fire started, but Daniel, Gavin and Arthur Dissinger perished when they went downstairs or at least attempted to go to the first floor, Kriner said.
He said another sibling, identified as Angel Dissinger, 4, was staying with a family friend.
The mother of the six children, Christine A. (Hontz) Dissinger, reportedly was working at the time. It wasn't known Friday where she works.
Christine Dissinger's husband, Arthur W. Dissinger, the father of all the children except the 2 year old, died on April 25, 2010, at the family's home in Schuylkill Haven. He was 60. Mr. Dissinger's obituary also listed a surviving son Michael, believed to be the oldest of the siblings.
The Dissinger family had recently moved into the rented home, according to Kriner. The survivors are staying with family and friends, he said.
Chimney only thing standing
The two-story house is located on a one-lane dirt road three miles south of Riverside and approximately one mile from Snydertown Road, between Bellas Hollow and Patton roads in Rush Township, Northumberland County.
Fire personnel from Montour and Northumberland counties battled the blaze for several hours. The last fire unit left the scene at 6:21 a.m.
The ruins from the farmhouse were still smoldering at about 11:30 a.m., and only the chimney was standing.
The coroner said Arthur Willis was the first child located and pronounced dead at 4 a.m. Gavin and Daniel were pronounced dead at 4:30 and 5:40 a.m., respectively.
The initial 911 dispatch at 1:23 a.m. reported entrapment with a fully involved fire. The house collapsed within 25 minutes after the emergency call was placed to Montour County Communications Center, which dispatches emergencies in Riverside and Rush Township.
Wire ignites tree
Complicating matters, a live power line that ran from a pole to the house detached and hung precariously on a tree, which caught fire. The wire hung just high enough above Smith Road to allow fire apparatus to access the scene.
According to Christine Dissinger's Facebook profile, she attended Pottsville Area High School.
She has ties to the Reformed Amish Fellowship Church in Sevierville, Tenn., where the curator of that Facebook page was updating church members on the tragedy Friday.
Responding to the call were firefighters from South Side Fire Company in Riverside, Danville, Mahoning Township, Elysburg, Overlook, Upper Augusta Township and Stonington, state police from Stonington, Elysburg and Danville ambulance personnel and Danville Fire Police.
(Staff writer Larry Deklinski contributed to this report.)