Two children die, babysitter is injured in Greenfield house fire
As Pittsburgh fire Lt. Gregory Niedermeyer crawled on his hands and knees through the thick, blinding smoke Friday afternoon, he hoped that reports of two young children trapped on the second floor of the home in Greenfield were false.
“I was praying, I was hoping that nobody was inside,” Niedermeyer said a few hours after he and his crew pulled the nearly lifeless body of one child out of a rear bedroom of the burning brick duplex on Mirror Street. “It was too hot. There was too much smoke.”
The child, Kamari Thomas, 4, was taken to UPMC Mercy, Uptown, where he was pronounced dead on arrival, fire Chief Darryl Jones said.
The boy's cousin, Irihanna Hayward, who would have celebrated her fourth birthday on Saturday, was found in an adjoining bedroom by fire Lt. Tim Leech and his crew from 13 Engine. She could not be resuscitated by city paramedics and died at the scene.
An aunt, Candice Pearson, 38, who was baby-sitting the children, remained hospitalized in critical condition at UPMC Mercy with back, neck and head injuries when she jumped from a third-story window to a cement patio, city police said.
Claudio Mazzariello, who lives on the other side of the duplex, had just finished eating a late lunch with a visiting friend from Italy, Nicola Di Bartolomeo, when he heard the haunting sounds of terrified children.
“We heard the beeping of the smoke detector and the kids screaming,” Mazzariello said. “We ran upstairs to where my son was sleeping and figured something bad was happening next door.”
Mazzariello helped his family get out while Di Bartolomeo ran next door.
“My friend tried to get back inside to help but couldn't make two steps inside the door. He tried to get in the back door but couldn't,” Mazzariello said.
“I looked out and saw all the smoke. Just as we got here, the flames started shooting out. The mother (of one of the children) came running up the street crying, ‘My babies! My babies! My babies!' She was in bad shape,” said Bud Roth, who lives on Mirror Street.
Frank Iozzo, who works with Tudi Mechanical Systems, was making a service call at Roth's home when he spotted the fire.
“I grabbed my fire extinguisher and came running down,” he said. “But it was too bad to get in. A black female who jumped out the back window was laying on the ground. Debris was falling off the house and a city police officer grabbed her, picked her up and carried her out front. The house was fully engulfed, I couldn't get anywhere near with my little fire extinguisher.”
Abbey Brown lives next door to the duplex.
“I was in my bedroom and I heard a lot of screaming,” Brown said. “I saw a lot of fire billowing out. Everything happened so fast. There was a lot of screaming. The mother was screaming, ‘My babies are inside! My babies are inside!' She was screaming at the top of her lungs. She was running up and down the street. The flames were billowing out of everywhere. It was actually scary. It was terrifying.”
Jones said 911 received the first call at 3:21 p.m. and that 12 Engine — with Niedermeyer and firefighters Thomas Santoriello, Ken Redinger and Jason McLean — arrived at the house about two minutes later.
“We searched along the walls on our hands and knees. There was no visibility up there. It was blinding,” Niedermeyer said. “I flipped the bed over because kids will hide under beds. I found the child, I believe the oldest one, next to the bed. He felt lifeless to me.”
Niedermeyer was badly shaken but continued to do his job after handing Thomas over to paramedics.
“It's tough. I have four children of my own. It's really tough,” Niedermeyer said.
Family members at UPMC Mercy were too distraught to talk. One woman collapsed to the ground outside the emergency room, weeping as she knelt, with another family member comforting her. City arson Detective Michael Burns said the fire started in the living room on the first floor but that the cause remains under investigation.
Workers from the American Red Cross were providing food, clothing and shelter to Mazzariello, his wife and friend and two children. The Salvation Army provided food and drinks to emergency workers.
Michael Hasch is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7820 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Staff writers Bill Vidonic and Tony LaRussa contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Padres snap Pirates’ 7-game win streak
- Steelers nose tackle McCullers finds performance, fitness go hand in hand
- Paddleboard classes focus on fitness
- Driver dies, students hurt in school van crash in Indiana County
- Point Park graduate’s ‘mugshot’ photos hit nerve on racism
- Hurdle says Pirates must eliminate defensive gaffes
- Pittsburgh roots shape former Md. governor’s outlook in run for president
- Judge dismisses UPMC ‘data breach’ lawsuit
- Wheelchair-bound kids get into the swing at White Oak playground
- Steelers’ defense unfazed by noise, believes in potential
- Seton Hill won’t manage new apartment project for student housing in city