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Man loses sister in deadly trailer fire

A man returned home to Exeter from work to find a raging fire in which his sister was found dead. (WOLF)
A man returned home to Exeter from work to find a raging fire in which his sister was found dead. (WOLF)
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EXETER, LUZERNE COUNTY (WOLF) -- A morning fire killed a Luzerne County woman, and tonight, family and friends are mourning the loss.

We spoke with the victim's brother who tried to rescue her from the flames.

After working his overnight shift, Jeff Mitchell came home ready to relax, when he opened his door to find black smoke.

"I got like a couple feet and I couldn't go any further because I was almost passed out from the smoke," says Mitchell.

While a dog ran out the door and was taken to a neighbor's house, his sister, Donna Mishanski, 61, was still inside. People ran out to help.

"Just screaming oh my God, she's still in there!" says witness Kimberly Peck. "And then everybody was just running all over the place and I guess they tried to go in and get her, but they couldn't."

"Just smoke," says witness Larry Vanmeter, indicating a large plume with his hands. "I mean, it covered the park."

Police say they found Mishanski's body near the entryway to a bedroom of the home on Fourth Street in Birchwood Estates. While the fire was called in around 8 a.m. on Thursday, they're not sure how long it was burning before that.

"She was my sister and I loved her to death and she loved everybody and she would do anything for anybody you know, it's just a tragic, tragic accident," says Mitchell.

After the fire, you could see where the flames went through the middle of the trailer, but witnesses say it was not like that in the beginning.

"There wasn't any indication that anything was wrong until I opened up the door," says Mitchell.

A friend of Mishanski's who used to live in the trailer park came by to leave flowers, heartbroken at the loss of someone who had comforted her after her dad died from kidney cancer in 2013.

"I came to my friend's house that lived a couple streets up and then I came here like 4:00 in the morning and she opened her door up and just talked to me, helped me get through it," says Sierra.

In fact, Sierra just saw Mishanski yesterday. Family members say Mishanski had health problems and used oxygen, but she didn't let that keep her down.

While her dog, Cupid, is safe, people who knew Mishanski are stunned by this sudden loss.

"Whenever I needed someone, she told me to come over. I was supposed to come hang out with her tomorrow and I just can't believe it," says Sierra.

Family members say they're trying to find a home for Cupid. The Red Cross says they will be giving out smoke alarms in Birchwood Estates on Saturday.

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The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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