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Family escapes Thanksgiving fire, now in need of help

| Friday, Dec. 6, 2013, 4:27 p.m.

Three people safely evacuated a house fire in Cranberry early Thanksgiving morning just hours before they would have gotten up to prep their holiday meal.

Authorities said the fire at 507 Edinboro Court was likely caused by an electrical malfunction with the kitchen's refrigerator, and nothing in the home was salvageable.

While the kitchen sustained fire damage, the rest of the home sustained water or smoke damage.

The fire caused about $120,000 in damage to the insured home, though the home's contents were uninsured.

Homeowner Bernadette D'Ambrosi said she slept through the home's fire alarms and was alerted to the blaze by her nephew, Michael Helmeci, 20, who was staying with her overnight. Her older son, Coty Maccaglia, 17, was not home at the time of the fire.

After D'Ambrosi got Christian Franz, her 4-year old son, out of the home, she was unable to rescue her pet Shih Tzu despite several attempts.

“He just kept running away from me, and soon I couldn't see anything in front of me,” D'Ambrosi said. “I hoped he would go out of the back door.”

Authorities said first responders were at the scene at 3:1 5a.m., three minutes after they were called. Twenty-four Cranberry firefighters responded to the fire, and firefighters from Zelienople, Harmony and Marshall assisted them.

“Crews encountered heavy smoke and went in through a side door to get to the fire,” said Capt. Dennis Kimmel of the Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Company.

“We ventilated the structure out, and our guys did an excellent job knocking down the fire in 30 minutes.”

The Butler County Chapter of the American Red Cross put the family in a hotel room for five days, and D'Ambrosi said her family is staying there until she hopefully finds a new place of residence near her workplace in Moon Township.

Clothes donations for the family can be dropped off at 394 Ambard Avenue, Pittsburgh.

To learn more about how to help the family, D'Ambrosi can be emailed at berndambrosi@live.com.

Shawn Annarelli is a freelance writer with Trib Total Media.

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