PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two people were able to escape to safety, but an overnight fire claimed one man’s life at a townhouse in Pittsburgh’s Hill District.
The fire broke out around 2 a.m. in the 1800-block of Wylie Avenue.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s office has identified the fire victim as 35-year-old Darren Hawkins. The results of his autopsy are pending.
Authorities say that three people were inside the townhouse when the fire started.
“We had three occupants at the time of the fire,” said Det. Rich Ford, a Pittsburgh arson investigator. “One was sleeping upstairs; we had two people sleeping downstairs in a fold-out bed in the living room. [The] fire originated in the living room area.”
The fire and smoke were turning intense, but the three occupants had enough lead time to escape. Two of them did.
“The female victim that was downstairs was able to make it out, along with the upstairs occupant,” said Det. Ford. “The other person, who we believe was attempting to possibly put the fire out, was unable to exit the premise and was pronounced on scene. A lot of times you only have maybe a matter of seconds or minutes, and you know, that time wasted could cost you your life.”
“I just came up here this morning because my nephew called and told me that it was my brother’s house,” said Wendi Dinkins.
Dinkins, whose extended family owns the home, was heartbroken in the wake of the fatal fire.
“I see my brother and my sister-in-law living there still and his son, and I don’t know who was the young man,” she said. “I’m sorry he passed.”
Investigators tell KDKA they do not believe the fire was intentionally set. Also, they add that the home did have functioning smoke alarms.