BUTLER TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — The cause of an overnight fire that claimed the lives of a mother and son and destroyed their home in Butler County is now under investigation.

The flames broke out after midnight at a home in the 800-block of East Jefferson Street in Butler Township.

“Tremendous amount of fire, it’s very unfortunate,” said Chief Nick Ban, of the Butler Township Fire Department. “Fires are bad enough in and of themselves; however, when there’s a loss of life it certainly affects the family, but it affects us as firefighters. It’s just a very tragic situation.”

When crews arrived at the scene, Chief Ban said they found the home fully engulfed in flames.

“Approximately 24 minutes after midnight, we received a call – multiple calls actually – from the 911 center that a structure right behind us was on fire,” he said. “Upon our arrival a few minutes later we found the house fully involved. Our firefighters attempted to make entry and were unsuccessful because of the amount of fire that was there. Unfortunately, two individuals perished, a mother and son.

Family members have identified the victims as 64-year-old Margaret Scheetz and her son, 43-year-old Lawrence Scheetz. Both were found dead inside the home.

“As far as I know, my mom was on oxygen and she smoked all the time, so we’re not sure if… there was explosions, the neighbors heard explosions,” Dena Richardson, the daughter and sister of the victims, said. ”So, we think that there was an explosion and she was found in the back of the house.”

After the blaze was extinguished, crews brought in heavy equipment to help them in finding one of the victims because the structure had become weak from the fire.

Chief Ban said Scheetz may have tried warn her son about the fire.

“It appears as though she may have tried to go to the back of the house where they staircase came down from upstairs,” he said.

Meanwhile, the fire marshals with Butler Township and State Police are now investigating the cause.

“The state police fire marshal and I have not had a chance to do a cause or an origin investigation yet,” Fire Marshal Christie, of Butler Township, said early this morning. “When he arrives back, we will both begin our walk around and start to make a determination.”

More News from Butler County

Watch & Listen LIVE