Pa. woman dies in fire

January 20, 1997


Staff Writer, Waynesboro

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - A 72-year-old woman was killed when a lighted cigarette sparked a fire Saturday night that also critically injured her husband, according to a fire official.

Gloria Garver, who would have turned 73 today, burned to death in the living room of her brick home on 243 S. Landis Ave., Waynesboro Fire Chief Don Ringer said. A cigarette ignited the chair that Garver was sitting in, fire officials said.

Garver's body was badly burned, but a cause of death has not been determined, fire officials said.

Waynesboro firefighters found her husband, Harry Lane Garver, 78, unconscious in the kitchen, Ringer said. He was taken to Waynesboro Hospital and then flown to University of Maryland's Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore.


Harry Garver is in in critical condition but is improving, according to his daughter, Diane Wolfensberger of Clear Spring, Md.

Waynesboro Firefighter Capt. Jody Sanders broke his leg in two places when he slipped on ice on the home's patio, Ringer said, adding that the temperature was 9 degrees at the time of the call. Sanders is scheduled to undergo surgery today, the chief said. There were no other injuries.

The fire was discovered by a neighbor who has lived across the street from the Garvers for 28 years. Harry E. Scott Jr., of 234 S. Landis Ave., said Sunday that he and his wife, Gwen had just returned home and settled down to watch a movie. Scott said his wife just happened to look out the window and noticed a red glow in the Garver's picture window across the street. Gwen dialed 911 while Scott said he rushed out in his bedroom slippers and banged on his neighbor's front door. There was no response.

"If it wasn't for that curtain burning my wife would've never seen it," Scott said, adding that by the time he got over to the house there were no visible flames but he could smell smoke and hear crackling inside.

The fire had burned up all of the oxygen inside the home, Ringer said, which is why Scott couldn't see any flames at the time. Firefighters used only 200 gallons of water to put out the remaining fire, Ringer said.

Damage to the house is estimated at $50,000.

"It's nice to know that the neighbors were there watching out for them," Wolfensberger said. "That's a wonderful feeling."

The Scotts called Wolfensberger at her home after they discovered the fire.

Harry Garver is a lifelong resident of Waynesboro. He and Gloria, formely of Hagerstown, were married in 1945. They lived at the South Landis Avenue home most of their married life, their daughter said.

Gloria was a homemaker and member of St. Andrew Catholic Church.

"She was good hearted, wanted to help others, and caring," Wolfensberger said.

Harry Garver is a disabled veteran of World War II. He is a member of the American Legion and the Elks Club.

The Garvers also have a son, Larry, of 607 Clayton Ave., Waynesboro, who owns Garver's Surveying. Larry flew home from vacation in Hawaii Sunday morning after Wolfensberger called to tell him about the fire, she said.

The Garvers have three grandsons.

Grove Funeral Home in Waynesboro is handling arrangements.

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