Woman dies in Shenango, Pa., fire

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. — The wife of a longtime Tribune Chronicle employee perished in an explosive fire Monday morning at the couple’s home in Mercer County, Pennsylvania.

Officials said Nancy Waugaman, 70, was inside the 133 Buckwalder Road home in Shenango Township, near New Wilmington, when the fire broke out.

She was the wife of Tribune Chronicle Circulation Director Bill Waugaman, who has worked at the newspaper since 1995.

Mercer County 911 reported receiving a call about the blaze at 11:17 a.m., prompting Shenango Township police and several area fire departments to respond.

Shenango Township fire Chief Bill Williams said Nancy Waugaman “was disabled to some capacity,” used a cane and was on oxygen.

The oxygen and other possible explosives in the house made the fire particularly dangerous, Williams said.

He said explosions after the fire started prevented anyone from entering the house and were so powerful that the front door was blown off the structure and, along with other debris, scattered across the road.

“There was debris blown about 75 to 100 feet away,” Williams said.

Shenango Township police Chief Jason Newton said heavy smoke also hampered rescue attempts.

“We tried to make entry, but couldn’t because of the heavy smoke. We couldn’t get too far into it,” Newton said, noting that emergency responders found Nancy Waugaman’s body a short time later.

Nancy Waugaman was pronounced dead at 1:30 p.m. at her home by Deputy Coroner Mike Renner, according to a news release from the Mercer County Coroner’s Office. The Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal is investigating. The Shenango Township Police Department, local fire officials, and the Mercer County Coroner’s Office are also working to determine what cause the fire.

The fire was declared under control at 2:24 p.m. Williams said the house was a total loss.

“It’s always horrible to see tragedy strike anyone, but it is especially difficult to grasp when it’s someone as hardworking and caring as Bill,” said Len Blose, Tribune Chronicle general manager. “My prayers and those of the whole Tribune Chronicle family are with Bill and his family.”