McKEESPORT (KDKA/AP) – A devastating fire destroyed a McKeesport home early Saturday morning, leaving a man with burns over half his body and claiming the lives of his wife, his wheelchair-bound father and the woman’s four young children.
The home, on Express Alley, off of Atlantic Avenue, was fully engulfed in flames when McKeesport firefighters arrived at the scene around 7 a.m.
KDKA’s Bob Allen Reports:
When the fire was finally out, they made the terrible discovery.
“Unfortunately, at this time, we do have six individuals that are deceased as a result of this fire,” said Chief Alvin Henderson, of Allegheny County Emergency Services. “Right now, we have two adults – one male, one female – and then four juveniles.”
Firefighters found the body of 56-year-old Ronald Egenlauf, who was partially paralyzed and used a wheelchair, on the first floor of the home.
The bodies of Hope Jordan and her four children, Dominic Jordan, 7; Autumn Jordan, 6; Serenity Jakub, 3; and Victoria Jakub, 2, were found together on the second floor.
Egenlauf and Jordan, whose Facebook page indicated they were married Dec. 7, initially escaped the flames, but went back into the burning two-story house to try to save the kids.
“The kids were in a back bedroom, and when it caught fire, they couldn’t get them out in time,” said Mary Benton, Ronald’s sister.
Family members say Keith Egenlauf tried to rescue his father, Ronald, but he was forced to get out again.
“He actually jumped out the window, they said, and he got burned pretty good, like 50-something percent of his body,” said Benton.
“I just know that his son tried to rescue him, and came over here,” said Donna Ackerman, Keith’s aunt. “There’s blood on the sidewalk; obviously, his feet were bleeding.”
KDKA’s Amy Wadas Reports:
Keith Egenlauf ran to a nearby house and knocked on the door.
“I heard pounding on my door, looked outside, I see blood,” said James, a neighbor. “Go upstairs, wake my mom up, look outside and the house is on fire.”
Keith Egenlauf is being treated at UPMC Mercy Hospital. He is in critical condition in their burn unit, a nursing supervisor told the Associated Press.
He and his father had lived in the yellow wood-frame house for about 10 years, Ackerman said.
Ronald Egenlauf had been paralyzed from a stroke that he suffered about six years ago during surgery to repair an aneurysm, according to Ackerman.
Investigators were combing through the rubble trying to determine what caused the fire.
Others were interviewing family members about the layout of the house and the victims’ living habits, in order to get a clear picture of where the family members likely were when the fire began and why they didn’t escape, Henderson said.
The Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said autopsies would not be conducted until Sunday.
“I wish somebody would say it’s a nightmare and wake me up, but obviously it’s not,” Ackerman said.
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