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Fund established for Greenfield family that lost two children in fire

| Monday, Oct. 15, 2012, 2:54 p.m.
Pittsburgh Bureau of Fire firefighter bows his head in the aftermath of the blaze at 951 Mirror Street in Greenfield where the fire in the two-story duplex took the lives of two children on Friday October 12, 2012. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

Greenfield residents are stepping up to help the neighborhood family that lost two children in a fire.

“That's the type of neighborhood that Greenfield is. The people there want to help,” said city Councilman Corey O'Connor.

Neighbors gave $341 in cash during the dedication of a entrance sign at the end of the Greenfield Bridge on Sunday, O'Connor. said.

And relatives of the children have established the “Hayward Family Fund” at First National Bank. Donations can be made at any branch.

Pittsburgh Greenfield K-8 is collecting donations of store gift cards and clothing for first-grader Vernon Hayward, 7, whose sister and cousin perished in the fire.

Irihanna Hayward, 3, and her cousin Kamari Thomas, 4, died of smoke inhalation in the fire that struck their Mirror Street duplex on Friday, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office.

Greenfield school Principal Eric Rosenthall said Vernon's grandparents brought him to school on Monday to be among his friends.

“He lost everything,” Rosenthall said. “He doesn't even have a game to play with. It's a tough time for them.”

Vernon wears size 14 pants and size 5 shoes. The school is not accepting cash donations.

Rosenthall said Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane stopped by the school to check on Vernon.

The Red Cross has been providing temporary shelter to the Hayward family and to the family that lived on the other side of the duplex, which was damaged as well, said Dominique Buccina, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross.

Candice Pearson, 38, an aunt who was babysitting the children when the fire broke out, is listed in serious condition at UPMC Mercy Hospital, Uptown. Pearson leapt from a third-story window to escape the flames.

Pittsburgh fire Chief Darryl Jones said investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire.

Pamela Seighman, owner of Grandview Cemetery in Export, said she spoke with relatives of the family and offered to donate two cemetery plots.

“I told them that's the least we can do,” Seighman said. “I was just so upset by the whole story. I told them they could pick out two lots anywhere they want.”

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

Jeremy Boren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7935 or jboren@tribweb.com.

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