Forest City fire claims man
BY DENIS J. O’MALLEY
and JEREMY G. BURTON
FOREST CITY – An avid outdoorsman and newspaper columnist was killed early Thursday in a raging fire that investigators believe may have started by a candle.
Bill Feddock, 89, died in the house he called home for 60 years. Flames ripped through 723 Delaware St. and melted the siding off a neighboring home.
Feddock’s youngest daughter, her boyfriend and their son also were home when the fire ignited. They jumped to safety from a window, said Feddock’s eldest daughter, Peggy Brager of Forest City.
In all, the fire displaced five people, Forest City Fire Chief Tom Prince said. Patricia Konzman, Christopher Sklanka and Ron Armstrong were displaced from 723 Delaware. All were treated for smoke inhalation at Marian Community Hospital in Carbondale.
William and Gloria Widzon, who were unharmed, were displaced from 719 Delaware St., the chief said.
The three-alarm fire began shortly after 6 a.m., and firefighters from 13 area companies were on scene for nine hours.
Almost two hours later, a crowd of neighbors stood across from Feddock’s home, watching as firefighters on ladder trucks sprayed down at the ruined structure as dense smoke billowed in every direction.
Flames had already consumed the upper floors when engines arrived. By the time firefighters could control the blaze, it spread to the adjacent home at 719 Delaware St., which lost part of its roof.
The cause was likely an accident involving a candle, Chief Prince said.
Brager said the candle was part of a memorial her father kept to his wife, Alice, who died 14 years ago.
The shrine included a photo of Mrs. Feddock, a picture from their 50th wedding anniversary and numerous religious images. Her father kept the candle burning as often as possible, Brager said.
Just this week, the family had marked what would have been Mr. and Mrs. Feddock’s 70th wedding anniversary.
Feddock would sit in a straight-backed chair by the shrine and watch television, surrounded by bookcases filled with papers and books about the outdoors, which was the subject of his regular column in the Forest City News, “Tales and Scales.”
The paper’s next edition would be its first without Feddock’s byline in 25 years, owner John Kameen said.
“He never, ever missed one,” he said.
Brager can attest: Her father once wrote a column from a hospital room at Community Medical Center in Scranton, where he was recovering from heart surgery. She brought him research material he asked for.
“He never made small talk,” Kameen recalled. “He was a very thoughtful person. He always had story to tell and a philosophy to get across.”