'Valiant effort' made at scene of Shamokin fire
SHAMOKIN - The loss of life in Tuesday's fire, especially that of a child, was hitting hard among emergency personnel.
Authorities said Melissa "Missy" Pangburn, 13, died in the fire in the city's Fifth Ward. The fire brought out volunteer responders from Shamokin and nine other communities.
Raymond Siko II, a city police patrolman and also the city's fire investigator, said her death won't be lost on the first responders.
"This isn't going to go away. They're going to remember her name and the date and time of this," he said. "This is part of the healing process."
Siko and city Police Chief Edward Griffiths credited the efforts of police officers, along with paramedics and neighbors who arrived on scene first. Griffiths specifically mentioned Scott Bramhall and Kevin Heim. They also praised the efforts of area firefighters.
"They did everything they could do," Siko said of emergency responders. "People need to know they gave a valiant effort, and it was very, very tragic."
Griffiths and Siko were both visibly upset by Pangburn's death. They expressed sympathy for the victim and her loved ones.
James F. Kelley, Northumberland County coroner, was also shaken. Pangburn was just one year older than one of his granddaughters.
Despite many years on the job, deaths involving children have not become routine.
"That hits me, oh my God that hits me when it's kids," Kelley said. "I feel so bad for the family."
Siko said that in the wake of the death, police and fire officials felt it best to allow the family time to grieve before interviewing them.
"They've been through enough today. It's just a tragic accident," Griffiths added.
In addition to the on-scene responders from nine other communities, there were personnel from yet another four who came to the city to serve on standby in the event of another emergency.