AlliedNews.com - Grove City, Pennsylvania

Local News

August 28, 2013

Chief: Fatal fire more tragic than suspicious

GROVE CITY — A fire that took the lives of two siblings on McConnell Street in June is expected to be deemed undetermined, according to Grove City's chief of police.

Chief Dean Osborne spoke after Monday's borough council meeting about the tragic blaze that took the lives of Brandon Lee Fortuna, 28, and his sister Kirsten Lynn Fellows, 43, at Fortuna's home on 432 McConnell St.

"There's nothing at this point to make us think it's suspicious," Osborne said of the late-night fire at the house, where firefighters were called around 3:15 a.m. June 17.

Mercer County Coroner J. Bradley McGonigle III released last week a report that the siblings died of carbon monoxide toxicity and smoke inhalation.

Osborne believes the state police fire marshal, Trooper David R. Jungling Jr., "already listed 'undetermined' as the cause (of the fire) ... due to the extent of the burning," he added.

Borough police are the main investigators and "followed up on leads and calls," Osborne noted. "We had quite a few, but that's any time you have something like that."

All three parties working on the case have shared information during their investigations; borough police expect to close its case when Jungling and McGonigle send their final paperwork to police, Osborne said.

The company that insured the house has also done an investigation, he noted. "Hopefully something will happen soon with demolition," Osborne said, since the charred skeleton of the house still stands.

Authorities say Fellows' remains were found on the second floor and Fortuna's were found in the basement -- believing he fell from the second level through holes burnt in the floors from the fire.

Fellows lived in Lackawannock Township with her boyfriend, Richard McDowell, who reported that his girlfriend was helping her brother clean his McConnell home to sell.

The only survivor was Fellows' dog, Sissy, who was found in a backpack in front of the house the next day. Osborne said a neighbor called authorities after hearing barking noises, "and one of our guys dug" Sissy out of the rubble.

The chief felt the debris covering the backpack-sealed animal probably saved her life, he noted. McDowell believed his girlfriend saved her pet before returning to the burning house to help her brother escape, where they both perished.

Police don't believe there was any foul play that caused the fire, Osborne said. "To have a suspect, you have to have a crime, and there's no reason to believe accordingly. ... Nothing suspicious was found."

It's helpful to have a ruling for "closure ... but oftentimes that doesn't happen," the chief said.

"Bottom line is: It's a tragedy."

Published Aug. 21, 2013, in Allied News. Pick up a copy at 201 A Erie St., Grove City.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • IDC speaker Route 208 area keeps growing

    The Route 208 corridor that encompasses Grove City and Pine and Springfield townships was the main focus at Friday’s annual meeting of the 79-80 Interstate Development Corp., its members learning more about current and potential projects.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Drilling permits, 14 violations recorded

    Fourteen violations and multiple permits for gas and oil drilling were issued over the past month, according to records detailing activities in and around the Allied News coverage area.

    April 18, 2014

  • Winter's chilling cost

    Grove City Borough Council will be considering options to pass along a $200,000 electric bill to residents – maybe.

    April 18, 2014

  • pryts,monica-headshot.jpg Allied coverage wins 2 press awards

    Allied News and The Herald garnered awards in the annual Keystone Press Awards, sponsored by the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • grilling organic chicken.jpg Connections made for the future of local foods

    Representatives of Sustainable Slippery Rock and the Northwest Pennsylvania Growers Cooperative, along with community members, came together Wednesday night to exchange ideas about area food systems and raise awareness of local sustainability.

    April 16, 2014 2 Photos

  • holocaust speaker1.jpg Finding good in the darkest time

    Paul Bartrop works hard to find the good - accounts of heroism and selfless acts - in one of the most evil events known to mankind: the Holocaust.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • College to raze old middle school

    At 101 years old, the former Grove City Middle School will soon be razed.
    Last summer, Grove City College purchased the middle school at 130 E. Main St. from Grove City Area School District. It was built in 1913.

    April 16, 2014

  • Board sets calendar, make-up days

    Slippery Rock school directors on Monday set the calendar for the 2014-15 school year and scheduled the remaining two snow make-up days for students.

    April 16, 2014

  • goalball trio2.jpg Sports group serves blind, visually impaired

    A non-profit organization based at Slippery Rock University that serves blind and visually-impaired children is gearing up for its spring sports clinic, among other events and fundraisers that keep participants and organizers busy year-round.

    April 2, 2014 2 Photos

  • girl scouts2.jpg Sold!

    Sold!

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide