Mother Planning Vigil For 20th Anniversary Of Her Sons’ Deaths In Tragic Fire

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A mother is planning a vigil to mark the somber, 20-year anniversary of the deaths of her two young sons in a house fire in Greenfield.

Kimberly Petrelli, who says she’s still in therapy and on medication, was living with her extended family in the three-story home on Greenfield Avenue back in the fall of 1997.

It was on Nov. 23 when the fire broke out. Petrelli’s two young sons were killed in a second-floor bedroom in the back of the house. The victims were 5-year-old Anthony, and his 3-year-old brother, Michael.

Fire investigators said they found smoke detectors in the dining room, but none of them had batteries. The cause of the fire was later determined to be an accident.

“We had taken the smoke detectors down because we started painting the night before, and we didn’t have a chance to put them back up,” Kimberly said.

She said she has regrets about the deadly fire, telling KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “I’m a mother, and my job is always to protect my children, and I feel like I failed them, of course.”

Petrelli’s third son, Gregory, was just an infant when the fire broke out. He survived, and is now 20.

She said of her two lost boys, “Michael had his own personality that you couldn’t figure out. One minute he was playing, the next minute he was sleeping in a doorway. Anthony was more book smart. He liked reading, learning.”

Petrelli has a message about fire safety she wanted to share. No doubt, you’ve heard it before, but she believes it bears repeating.

“Don’t take anything for granted,” she says. “Please, take care of your smoke detectors, have a fire extinguisher, make sure you have an escape route.”

More from Ralph Iannotti
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