Mother, son killed in Washington County fire


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In the moments before her death, Lisa Hewitt called her husband at work and frantically told him she was trapped on the second floor of their burning Buffalo farmhouse.

At one point, she phoned 911 for help, but the call cut off.

The fire that erupted around 11 p.m. Sunday killed Ms. Hewitt, 27, and her son, Timothy Jr., 5, a short time later.

It took the young wife and yet another child from Timothy Hewitt Sr., who had already lost a daughter and a stepchild -- both to sudden infant death syndrome, relatives said.

"He lost everything," said Edwin Medlen, an uncle of Mr. Hewitt. "There's not much more the guy can take."

Investigators said the exact cause and origin of the fire on rural Wigington Road had not been determined but that it likely was accidental and does not appear to be suspicious. The family heated the home with a wood-burning stove, but it's not yet clear if that played a role.

The state police fire marshal in Washington County is investigating.

Hours after firefighters extinguished the blaze, smoke curled from the corners of the charred farmhouse.

On Monday morning, relatives gathered outside, hugging, sobbing and staring at the rubble, trying to comprehend the loss. One relative told his family he couldn't stand to look at the place anymore.

Before the family arrived, fire investigators surveyed damage inside the house. Moments after they walked out, part of it fell in a dramatic collapse.

Mr. Medlen rushed to his niece's home when he heard about the fire.

"It was too engulfed in flames this time that nobody could have helped them," he said.

Family members said Ms. Hewitt was a loving stay-at-home mom and that Timothy Jr. was a happy child.

"Timmy used to sit on my lap from the time he was old enough to crawl," Mr. Medlen said.

Mr. Hewitt, a Taylorstown volunteer firefighter, could not be reached.

McGuffey School District superintendent Beverly Arbore said the death of the Claysville Elementary School kindergartner was especially difficult for a district that lost another student in the same grade last month in a car wreck.

"The McGuffey School District staff, students and community are again deeply saddened, and our sympathy and heartfelt prayers are extended to Timothy's father and family," Ms. Arbore said in a statement.

"It is very difficult to deal with these losses, and we feel helpless at times like this, but the McGuffey community is very caring and will do everything possible to provide comfort and support to the Hewitt family."

The district will send letters to parents of Timothy Jr.'s classmates and said counselors will be available this week.

The Hewitt family was renting the farmhouse. A state police investigator said the family had dropped renter's insurance about six months ago to save money.

Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1944 or on Twitter @borntolede.


Molly Born: mborn@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1944. First Published October 28, 2013 7:55 AM

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