GERMAN TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — An intense, fast-moving fire engulfed a home in Fayette County Friday afternoon leaving two men dead and causing the structure to collapse.
The three-alarm blaze was first reported just before 2 p.m. in the 500-block of Seventh Street in German Township.
Flames and heavy smoke could be seen coming from the windows of the two-story, wood home. It wasn’t long before the house was consumed.
KDKA’s Paul Martino Reports:
Photo Gallery: NewsChopper 2 over the scene
There’s not much left of the home now. People living in the area say it went up like a tinderbox. And it was a grim evening as crews had to dig through the rubble to find the two bodies.
Firefighters faced a huge inferno as they arrived on the scene.
“It was burning the back of my neck, actually,” said Assistant Chief Ryan Huhn, of the AHDA Fire Department. “We actually sprayed the truck down to try to keep it cool.”
But things only got worse. NewsChopper 2 captured the moment when the big, burning home collapsed. Fortunately, no firefighters were injured, but there was no hope for the two elderly men inside.
Watch Raw Video from NewsChopper 2:
Intense smoke and heat made it impossible to rescue them.
“Grabbed a towel and got it wet and put it over my face and tried to go in the house,” said Rob Lindsay, a neighbor.
The two victims were brothers who lived in the home their entire lives. They have been identified as 76-year-old James Edward Shea and 72-year-old Wilbur Shea.
Neighbors say the two men didn’t get around very well. One of them was recovering from a stroke.
“They were both elderly guys, nice guys, both of them,” said Art Vernon, a neighbor. “It’s a shame.”
Firefighters had a hard time getting water to the scene. They had to run 1,800 feet of line to get to a fire hydrant that’s nearly twice the recommended distance.
But it’s not likely that it would have made any difference in rescuing the two elderly victims.
“Real nice guys; they’re real quiet and now they’re gone,” said Gary Myers, a neighbor. “It just seems like there’s no good news around here anymore.”
As neighbors now grieve the loss, they are also urging community officials to get a fire hydrant nearer to their neighborhood.
It’s not clear yet what sparked the fire.