Two Dead in Williamsport, Pennsylvania Fire

Firefighters rescue third victim in the nick of time.


Williamsport, PA -- Two people were killed, but a third was rescued just in time early Saturday morning when a three-alarm fire broke out in a century-old Victorian apartment house at 414-416 W. Fourth St.

The two dead were identified as Alan Fiester, 51, who lived on the second floor, and his Muncy girlfriend, Barbara Jean Buck, 56, who routinely spent Friday nights with him, according to County Coroner Charles E. Kiessling Jr.

The tenant who was rescued was Josephine Wilson, 70, sources told the Sun-Gazette.

When firefighters arrived on the scene about 2:30 a.m., they were faced with heavy smoke pouring from the back of the building.

City police officers and a first-floor tenant who had already fled the building told firefighters that Wilson was trapped in her second-floor apartment.

"I could hear Josephine yelling. I hollered back to her, asking if she was all right. She told me no. Just then the fire trucks pulled up, and I yelled at the firefighters that she was in there," said Pamela Phillips, 44, who has lived in the building since 1998.

As firefighter Michael Gardner donned breathing gear and took a hose up a rear stairwell, firefighters Todd Arthur and Keith Lucas set up a ladder to reach Wilson.

"Lucas climbed the ladder, broke the window and entered the woman's smoke-filled apartment. He found the woman on the floor conscious, but she was fading," Platoon Chief Jeff Cole said.

"He brought the woman to the window of an enclosed porch, where he was met by Todd, who carried her down the ladder," Cole said.

"Gardner was using the hose, pretty much holding the fire in check so that the two other firefighters could get the woman out in time," Cole said.

Wilson was taken by ambulance to Williamsport Hospital, but no information was available about her condition.

The city fire department did not release any identities of those who lived in the building Saturday night.

Phillips said she lived on the first floor and ran a business called Custom Cushions and Upholstery on the 416 side of the building.

"I heard noises inside the building. I then heard like a bang. I didn