Explosive house fire kills Shenango Township woman and her dog

Investigators think oxygen tanks were to blame for the explosions -- one of which blew off the home's front wall

Investigators are on the scene of a fatal fire in West Middlesex, Mercer County.


SHENANGO TWP., Pa. (WKBN) – A woman and her dog died in an explosive house fire in Shenango Township Monday morning.

The victim was identified by the Mercer County Coroner’s Office as 70-year-old Nancy Waugaman.

First responders spent the day putting out hot spots as family and friends tried to grasp what happened.

The fire started around 11:15 a.m. at a house in the 100 block of Buckwalter Road.

Police got there first, breaking down the door to try to get inside where Waugaman and her dog were trapped.

“There was heavy smoke and flames throughout, so we didn’t really make it in that far,” Police Chief Jason Newton said.

Shenango Township Fire Department pulled up soon after. They tried to get in the home, too, but they couldn’t get near it because of explosions coming from inside the house.

“It blowed that front wall right out toward the road. Yeah, that’s about, what? Fifty feet?”  Williams said.

Newton thinks medical equipment is to blame for the explosions.

“Apparently there was a lot of oxygen, medical ‎O2, oxygen tanks throughout the house and we believe those are what caused the explosions,” he said.

Police and fire crews said they did everything they could to save Waugaman, but the flames were too intense and they just couldn’t get inside. Emergency responders found her near the kitchen after they put out the fire.

“Our Shenango Township cops…they tried. They tried their best, but it got too hot,” Newton said.

Hours later, only the foundation remains as pieces of clothing and knickknacks sit in the ashes.

“Any loss of life, you know, it’s a bad day. It’s a bad day for us and everybody that’s here, and more so for the family,” Newton said.

One firefighter was injured and taken to UPMC Horizon in Farrell. His condition is unknown at this time.

The cause of the fire is still unknown. The Fire Marshal has to come back Wednesday to investigate. He said he does not believe the fire was intentional.

The coroner said it hasn’t been determined yet whether Waugaman’s death was a direct result of the fire, but he does not suspect foul play.

Editor’s note: This story has been corrected to show the fire happened in Shenango Township.

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