A three-alarm fire engulfed a home in Dorrance on the morning of July 6 and took the life of its owner, a well-liked woman who had just celebrated her 80th birthday. The cause of the blaze is still undetermined, but has been deemed accidental.
Joyce Roberts Murray, who had lived alone at 704 South Mountain Boulevard, had already passed away when firemen found her that morning, according to Dorrance Fire Chief Duane Seltzer.
A neighbor saw smoke billowing from the home and called 911, at approximately 8:30 a. m., the chief explained. Of the neighbor, he said, “He went over to the house and checked it out. He was unable to get inside because of the high heat and flames.”
When Dorrance firefighters arrived on the scene, fire and flames were blazing from the rear corner of the building, Seltzer went on. Firemen gained access to the home but were constantly battling flames as they tried to search the home for people.
Murray, who had lived with several pets, at least one dog and three cats, was found on the floor of her bathroom. “She appeared to have died of smoke inhalation,” Seltzer stated.
He continued of Murray, “We heard a lot of people say a lot of good things about her. She was a very well-liked lady in the township.”
Firemen got the blaze under control in less than an hour, Seltzer said, but many stayed throughout the day as the fire marshal was called in and the cause of the fire was investigated.
Eight fire departments helped in total. Volunteers from all of Mountaintop’s fire departments, as well as Hazle Township, Ashley, and Valley Regional Fire and Rescue of Drums were called in to help.
It didn’t take long for Seltzer to determine this was a three-alarm fire, he said, because of the “tremendous shortage of volunteers” that fire departments across the state have been battling. Of the lack of volunteerism, he added, “We have to adjust to that and call in more departments just for the manpower.”