BELLEVUE, Pa. (AP) — A fire at a suburban duplex has killed a mother, a father and their three children.
The Friday night blaze in Bellevue, just northwest of Pittsburgh, doesn’t appear to be suspicious, an Allegheny County fire official said Saturday. Arriving crews found “heavy fire” coming out of the left side of the duplex and pulled five victims from the home, Bellevue fire Chief Glenn Pritchard said.
Angela Lasch, 38, was pronounced dead along with her son Noah, 11, and daughters Kayley, 6, and Hannah, 4, the county medical examiner’s office said. Lasch’s husband and the children’s father, Stephen Lasch, 41, was pronounced dead Saturday afternoon, a county spokeswoman said.
Two people living on the other side of the duplex escaped the flames.
Neighbor Crandall Reeves watched as firefighters carried several people out of the house.
“This is just horrible, man,” Reeves told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “This is just crazy. I was just wondering where the kids were at.”
Reeves said he often saw the Lasch family’s children riding their bicycles up and down the cobblestone avenue.
Another neighbor, Bob Patton, said he saw paramedics working on two of the kids.
“It just tears at you. I can’t stop thinking about it. All fires are bad, but when there’s kids involved it’s just so very tragic,” said Patton, who added that he awoke Saturday with tears in his eyes.
Jeffrey Stern said he and his wife, Lana Stern, began renting the home to the close-knit family six or seven years ago.
“We’re both just devastated. We’re still in shock. We just can’t get our heads wrapped around this yet,” he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You see stories like this in the news, and you never imagine it happening to you. It’s just beyond terrible.”
The cause of the fire was under investigation, but county emergency services chief and fire marshal Matt Brown said Saturday that “there does not appear to be anything suspicious at this point.” He said the blaze appeared to have originated on the first floor.
Bellevue police had cordoned off part of the street so investigators could get inside the house, which remained standing but had several windows broken out.
Scores of people gathered Saturday evening for a vigil at a stadium behind Bellevue Elementary School, where school board president Gary Paladin said Kayley was a first-grader. The district said grief counselors will be available for students and others on Monday.