ROSS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – A family of four that had spent the night doing their Black Friday shopping went home to bed early this morning, but a short time later were roused from their sleep when their home caught fire.

Plumes of dense smoke seriously limited vision, and flames licked at the morning sky.

“I was in tears just thinking about the family, the holidays and the memories that they lost,” said Lisa Hrynda, a neighbor.

The sirens brought neighbors running on Lilac Avenue in Ross Township around 8 a.m.

After their Thanksgiving dinner, the Heyl family – Jeff, Kim and their two children – took off for Black Friday shopping. They returned around 5 a.m.

“They were sleeping,” said Maureen Heyl, the homeowner’s mother. “The guy across the street came over banging on the door, ‘Get out; fire, get out!’”

“I had to bang on [the door] for a while, and then they eventually came out, running downstairs,” said Paul Shields, the neighbor who woke up the family. “They had no idea what was going on.”

The house was so fully aflame that firefighters could only battle it defensively.

“The fire started under the deck at the rear of the house,” said Chief John Reubi; the Ross Township fire marshal.

The deck was completely charred, and the fire entered the home from there.

Almost everyone did escape safely, including Baby Bear the family’s dog; but Sally, their cat, was missing.

While fire marshals began their investigation, neighbors started collecting money and other items to meet the family’s needs. They lost everything including their Black Friday Christmas shopping.

“Most assuredly; everybody will be doing whatever they can to help these people out,” said Cathy Snyder, a neighbor.

The Red Cross is currently assisting the family with food and clothing.


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