MCMURRAY (KDKA) — Multiple fire companies responded for hours Monday night in Peters Township.
The fire broke out in a home at the end of a secluded road where an elderly couple lived.
When firefighters arrived the wife was out of the home but her husband was not able to make it out.
Firefighters had to go in to rescue him. The first time they tried to reach him, the smoke was heavy and they had to wait for a pumper truck to arrive.
“And they had said that there was entrapment inside the house,” said Chief Michael McLaughlin, of the Peters Township Fire Department.
A neighbor called 911 shortly before 5:30 p.m. after seeing smoke coming from the home at the end of the street on Clara Lane.
Neighbors told fire crews that an elderly couple lived at the end of the cul-de-sac. The wife had made it out, but her husband was still inside.
“We stretched the line into the house and we were able to stretch the line and continue our search, they found a victim at that time, inside of the house,” Chief McLaughlin said.
The couple was taken to St. Clair Hospital where the husband ultimately died from his injuries.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office identifies him as 84-year-old Robert Gries.
Peters Township, Bethel Park and North Strabane Fire Departments all responded. Fire crews called for backup as soon as they heard a resident was trapped inside.
“It changes your game plan right away. You go from wanting to extinguish the fire immediately to search and rescue,” McLaughlin told KDKA News.
The chief says fire conditions were difficult which they say sparked in the basement. The victim was found near the basement stairs near the garage.
“The basement damage is pretty substantial and the first and second floor have a substantial amount of smoke damage,” Chief McLaughlin said.
The wife’s condition is not known at this time. Family members tell us they had just celebrated Thanksgiving with the couple and their extended family.
A funeral service was held for Gries on Dec. 7 at the St. Joan of Arc Church.
The State Police Fire Marshal is looking for a cause, Fire officials say the fire started in a room inside the couple’s basement.