By Lisa Adams
SPRINGBORO, Pa. (Erie News Now) – Officials in Pennsylvania have released the names of three children and their grandmother who died during a tragic house fire on Friday.
Crawford County Coroner Scott Schell provided the update on the Springboro, Pa. to Erie News Now.
Bunches of balloons outside the charred home in the 100 block of Union Street honor the memory of the fire victims: 65-year-old Hilda Eberhart, her grandsons William Robson age 14, Matthew Robson age 10, and great granddaughter Destiny Robson who was just 6-months-old.
“We had a crew on the inside trying to make entry into the front half of the building,” Springboro Fire Chief Keith Shauberger said, “but the fire load and the fire conditions were so severe that they could not gain entry and I had to evacuate them to protect them.”
Firefighters from Springboro were assisted in attacking the flames by teams from eight other fire and rescue companies from Crawford and Erie Counties.
During the firefight, they weren’t certain how many people were trapped inside. “We’d been given preliminary numbers from bystanders outside, but it took quite some time throughout the fight and talking with other people and family as they showed up, to get accurate numbers on what we were looking for,” the fire chief said.
According to Trooper Jeff Cross, one of the Pennsylvania State Police fire marshals investigating the fire, it appears that the flames started in a first floor laundry room area located right by a stairway to the second floor – where the children were trapped.
Trooper Cross also said that wiring in the home was not up to code. A family member told investigators that the breakers would sometimes trip if the washer and dryer were running at the same time. The dryer was reportedly in use that night, and one family member who escaped said he saw flames in that area.
Although the cause of the fire is undetermined for now, the investigation is continuing. State police and Chief Shauberger spent the weekend searching for clues in the rubble, but indicated that they could not excavate too far into the remnants of the charred home without placing themselves in danger.
The loss in the fire is felt not just by the family, but by the entire Springboro Community, especially the firefighters who found the home fully ablaze when the arrived, making it impossible for them to rescue the woman and three children trapped inside. “It’s pretty tragic and heart breaking to my firemen also, they witnessed something and dealt with something that a lot of firemen never have to deal with in their entire careers…let alone being volunteers,” Shauberger said.
The firefighters will talk through what they experienced, first with each other and then they will get support from an outside team that includes former firefighters and pastors. “It’s called CISM, critical incident stress management team of all volunteers that come in and speak with everybody and do a debriefing” Chief Shauberger said.
The community is coming together to show support too, placing money collection jars in bars and in the fire department social hall, and they are working on plans for a benefit at the firehall in May. “Right now some friends of the family are working on putting together a benefit, it’s planned for May 1 here at our social hall, there’ll be more details posted later on facebook…right now, the best thing they can do is drop off a check made out to the Springboro Volunteer Fire Department with the memo line Union Street so we can designate that money to the family,” the fire chief said.
Chrissy Start, a relative of the family, has also established a gofundme page where people can make donations. The goal is $10,000 She is also providing updates on the mother who escaped the fire by jumping out a second story window and suffered serious injuries. You can learn more by clicking here.
So far there is no word on funeral plans, or which funeral home will handle the arrangements.