Portersville, PA Eight Die In Farmhouse Fire, Mar 1963


Butler, Pa. (UPI) - A farmer was killed along with the seven children he was trying to rescue early Sunday from the flaming second floor of his home in western Pennsylvania.
The only member of the household to survive was Mrs. Elizabeth J. Rosenberger, 39, who lost her husband, PAUL, 41, six children and a nephew.
She escaped death only because her husband told her to run for help and he would try to get the children out of the house.
The Rosenberger dairy farm is near Portersville, about 15 miles northwest of here, in Butler County.
The Rosenberger children who died were: PAUL, JR., 18; EDWARD, 16; NANCY, 11; ELAINE, 7; WILLIAM, 5; and CYNTHIA, 4. The other child, SCOTT O. SOISSON, 4, of Beaver RD1, was the son of Mrs. Rosenberger's brother.
State police said Mrs. Rosenberger and her husband were sleeping in their first floor bedroom when they were awakened by the fire which had apparently started in the kitchen.
She said she could not get through the thick smoke. The last time she saw her husband alive he was trying to fight his way upstairs to the youngsters when he told her to run for help.
Police said she ran across a field in her nightgown to the home of a neighbor, Samuel Scheidemantle, who telephoned for firemen. He raced to the Rosenberger home but by then it was engulfed in flames.
By the time firemen arrived the blaze had made so much headway it was impossible for them to control it. The two story remodeled frame house burned to the ground. Firemen recovered the eight bodies from the ruins.
State police said the children apparently were overcome by smoke before the flames reached them. The cause of the fire was not immediately determined.
Mrs. Rosenberger was admitted to Ellwood City Hospital in a state of shock.
Neighbors said the Rosenbergers had lived in the house since they were married about 21 years ago. They have one other child, David, 20, a student at Pennsylvania State University.

The Raleigh Register Beckley West Virginia 1963-03-11