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Woman, 79, dies in Armstrong County house fire

| Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, 12:24 p.m.
Armstrong County Commissioner Richard Fink speaks Sunday with East Franklin Fire Chief Mark Feeney outside the burned home of Fink's mother, Mary Fink, 79. She died in the fire at her house in the 100 block of Franklin Avenue, Applewold. Brigid Beatty | Leader Times
Valley News Dispatch
Armstrong County Commissioner Richard Fink (right) talks with emergency personnel in front of the home at 135 Franklin Ave. in Applewold where his mother, Mary Fink, 79, was killed in an early morning blaze on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. Bill Shirley | For the Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Emergency personnel gather in front of a house at 135 Franklin Ave. in Applewold where an early morning fire took the life of Mary Fink, 79, on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. Bill Shirley | For the Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Armstrong County Commissioner Richard Fink (right) talks with emergency personnel in front of the home at 135 Franklin Ave. in Applewold where his mother, Mary Fink, 79, was killed in an early morning blaze on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. Bill Shirley | For the Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Representatives from the Pennsylvania State Police (right) and Kittanning Police explore the outside of a house at 135 Franklin Ave. in Applewold where an early morning blaze took the life of Mary Fink, 79, on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012. Bill Shirley | For the Valley News Dispatch

APPLEWOLD — The mother of an Armstrong County commissioner died Sunday morning in a house fire in the borough, authorities said.

Authorities identified the victim as Mary Fink, 79, of 135 Franklin Ave., mother of commissioner Richard Fink. She lived alone in the house.

Armstrong County Coroner Robert Bower said firefighters were called there around 7:30 a.m. and found her body in the kitchen on the first floor. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Chief Mark Feeney of the East Franklin Fire Department said the fire apparently started in the back corner of the first floor, but the cause was not yet known. A state police fire marshal was at the scene.

Feeney said by the time he arrived Applewold assistant fire Chief Chuck Niceley was at the scene.

According to Niceley, one of Mary Fink's sons was outside the home trying to get in.

“He was physically trying to get in but it was too hot inside,” said Niceley.

When firefighters finally were able to gain entrance, the stairwell was burnt out, said Feeney.

“We found her in the kitchen on the floor,” he said.

“It's a tragic event,” said Bower, also a county commissioner. “We're a close-knit group of people up here, so it becomes personal. And the courthouse is a family in itself.”

Commissioner Fink and his four brothers Terry, Ed, Dave and Roger stood in rain outside the charred remains of their mother's house.

“She was a good mother,” said Commissioner Fink. “She was a lovely person and she will be sadly missed.”

He said he was shocked by the event and that it was Terry, who had been first on scene, trying to rescue his mother.

“He heard it on the scanner and rushed out in his bare feet,” said Commissioner Fink.

Faith Shaw, a neighbor, said there were flames coming out of the second floor windows when she got there. She said everyone loved Mary including many of the first responders.

“Many of these firemen have known her all their lives. People don't realize how hard it is on them,” said Shaw.

A sign under the blackened sagging front awning read “Welcome Friends.”

Just steps away a volunteer firefighter wiped away the rain from his face and said he used to bring Mrs. Fink her newspapers when he was a paperboy.

“Anybody would be proud to have her as a Mom. She was a good lady,” he said.

East Franklin, Applewold, West Kittanning, Kittanning Hose Co. 1,4 and 6 fire departments and Hose Co. 6 ambulance responded to the scene.

Staff writer Jason Cato contributed to this report. Brigid Beatty is a staff writers for Trib Total Media. Contact her at bbeatty@tribweb.com

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