By: KDKA-TV’s Bryant Reed
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Pittsburgh Police say the overnight fire that displaced a family and destroyed a home in the city’s Allentown section was “intentionally set.”READ MORE: Pittsburgh Weather: Sunny Start To The Week
The home along Excelsior Street caught fire around midnight Wednesday. The fire lit up the night sky, waking neighbors. The fire forced a family of six out of the house and now has them looking for a new place to stay.
“This is a nightmare,” one neighbor said.
A neighbor and his girlfriend saw the flames from across the street and were one of the first to call 911. The neighbor also came running out of his house to help get the family to safety.
Pittsburgh fire investigators said an unknown suspect intentionally set fire to the front and back of the home. As the fire burned, a neighbor stepped in to help, getting the mother and her five children to safety.
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“It’s good to see younger people coming in, helping out and doing the best they can,” said neighbor Thomas Walsh.
As neighbors helped look after the family, Pastor Christine Rotella took over. Rotella is the community’s chaplin.
“Making sure that they have clothing, making sure they have the food that they need,” said Rotella. “Most especially trying to do some fundraising so we can get them into safe and stable housing. And building connections for them to make sure the kids stay solid in their schoolwork.”
But she wonders why anybody would want to hurt the family.
“The heaviest negativity that our families and our kids carry is a constant loss of a sense of safety,” said Rotella. “That every time they get some stability underneath them, something happens in the community that shakes them at their core again.”
While the Christmas gifts are gone and family memories lost, the family is starting over with help from the community. Pastor Rotella says her focus now is helping the family get back to their normal lives.MORE NEWS: Eradicate Hate Global Summit To Kick Off In Pittsburgh On Monday
Meanwhile, the fire investigation unit is now looking for the suspect.