Couple Dies in West Mifflin (PA) House Fire

Megan Guza And Brian C. Rittmeyer

The Valley News-Dispatch, Tarentum, Pa.


Oct. 14—Fire tore through a West Mifflin home early Thursday morning, killing an elderly couple inside and forcing fire crews to retreat for their own safety as the house collapsed in on itself, authorities said.

A 911 caller reported the fire shortly before 4 a.m. By the time crews arrived at the home near the intersection of Lebanon School and Kings roads, the blaze was already going strong, said Chief Joe Hlasnick, of the West Mifflin #3 Volunteer Fire Department.

“The fire was well ahead of us by the time we’d gotten here,” said Hlasnick, who was first on the scene at the two-story home.

One victim, a woman, was found dead on the second floor, and Hlasnick said crews were still in the process of recovering the man, who they hadn’t yet found. Heavy machinery, including a backhoe, was brought in to knock down trees near the house and begin the delicate process of delayering — taking down debris one piece at a time.

“It’s a drawn out process at this point so we don’t miss anything and respect (the victim),” he said.

Kings Road branches off of Lebanon School Road, about 200 yards from its intersection with Route 837. Hlasnick said conflicting addresses — the home in question has an address of Lebanon School Road despite being off of Kings Road — caused some issues for crews. Heavy fog early Thursday gave them trouble too, he said.

Crews, he said, were met with a massive volume of flames when they arrived. They began battling the blaze, aware of the people trapped inside, but Hlasnick said he was forced to make the call to pull his crews out when the roof began caving in. For the safety of his people, he said, he made the call for them to back out.

“These are never easy incidents,” he said.

The structure wasn’t stable even hours after the fire started, and investigators used a drone to look down inside the house.

The Allegheny County Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire. The medical examiner’s office had not released the identities of the victims as of late morning

Neighbors said the an elderly couple lived in home, and one person told Tribune-Review news partner WPXI-TV the husband made it out and then went back inside for his wife.

“I smelled smoke while I was sleeping, but I didn’t think anything of it,” said neighbor Debbie Stanton, noting the people in the neighborhood often use their fireplaces. She said another neighbor called and woke her after seeing the flames and fire trucks.


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