Fire kills toddler in McKeesport

Boy, 2 firefighters injured in blaze that damaged 3 homes

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A 2-year-old girl was killed in a fast-moving house fire late Sunday night in McKeesport that also injured another child and two firefighters.

The Allegheny County medical examiner's office said it was still working on the case and that the toddler's identity would not be released Monday evening.

The girl was asleep upstairs when the fire started shortly before 11:30 p.m. at 1726 Soles St., said McKeesport fire Chief Kevin Lust. Flames spread quickly to the homes on either side, causing heavy damage. A fourth home had some water and smoke damage.

Child, 2, dies in McKeesport fire

A 2-year-old child was killed and several others, including two firefighters, were injured in a house fire late Sunday night in McKeesport, fire officials said. (Video by Bob Donaldson; 3/24/2014)

"To pull up and have three structures already involved is unusual," said McKeesport Deputy Fire Chief Don Sabol. "The fire had a good head start."

Two sisters and their children lived in the home where the blaze began, fire officials said. A boy, aged 10 or 11, suffered second-degree burns on his hands, and three other children were not hurt, the chief said. The mother of the deceased toddler was out of town when the fire broke out.

A neighbor, who did not want her name used, said she called 911 when she saw the flames. In just a matter of minutes, she said, the home was engulfed.

"I just heard 'boom, boom, boom,' " she said. "I looked out the back window, and it was just like a ball of fire."

Floors collapsed in the home, which fire officials said was destroyed.

Two firefighters were treated and released from UPMC McKeesport: One suffered a shoulder injury and the other had a superficial head wound. A neighbor who tried to help also was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, the chief said.

Investigators with the Allegheny County fire marshal's office, who determine a fire's cause and origin, were not available late Monday afternoon.

Chief Lust wasn't sure if the home had working smoke alarms, but said investigators didn't find any of the devices in the rubble Monday.

"Nobody heard any, but it's not to say they didn't have them," he said.

McKeesport solicitor J. Jason Elash said the city had no reports of code violations or structural issues for the house in "recent years."

The property is owned by Steel City Realty Investments, in care of Kevin Kamenski, who said the family lived there about two years. He declined additional comment.

Molly Born: or 412-263-1944. First Published March 24, 2014 7:42 AM


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