A forgotten wallet turned out to be a life-saver this morning when a PennDOT employee awakened an Armstrong County family shortly before their home was engulfed in flames.
Brant Cirrincione, Clarion County maintenance equipment manager for PennDOT, was on his way to work at about 6:20 a.m. when he realized he had forgotten his wallet.
Returning to his home in Cabot, Butler County, to get it put him about 10 minutes behind schedule. That turned out to be fortuitous for the unidentified family who lived on Route 28/66 in Boggs.
As he drove past their home around 7 a.m., "I saw a pretty decent orange glow out of the corner of my eye," Mr. Cirrincione said. He immediately turned his truck around and went to investigate, and saw smoke pouring from the dwelling.
"I started beating on the side of the house, the walls, the windows the doors," he said. He also called to a neighbor to phone 911.
Before long, the mother came out the front door. "She was hollering 'My babies, my babies.' I made it in the house maybe 10 feet and the father was coming out carrying both children," he said.
The children were toddlers, he said. Someone -- he forgets who -- told him no one else was inside.
Within 15 minutes, the home was engulfed, Mr. Cirrincione said. He waited about 30 minutes until his truck was no longer blocked in, then left for work.
"I don't have their names," he said. "I was just glad to see they were all out of the home."
"I'm sure he contributed to saving the whole family's lives," PennDOT spokeswoman Deborah Casadei said. "He deserves all of our thanks."
Route 28/66 was closed in both directions for about two hours.
The American Red Cross is assisting the family.
Mr. Cirrincione, who has worked for PennDOT for nine years, said he never forgets his wallet, at least not until today.
"I was talking to my wife and I said 'God works in mysterious ways," he said.
Jon Schmitz: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1868. First Published August 29, 2012 4:15 AM