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Help pours in for Apollo family that lost all

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Thursday, Jan. 12, 2012

A fire investigator found the charred remains of a family's home too dangerous to enter on Wednesday.

The roof of the Beskid home at 417 S. Pennsylvania Ave. was on the second floor, parts of the second floor were on the first floor and there were holes in the first floor, said Cpl. Jeff Crede, a state police fire marshal.

The family of six was away when neighbors reported the fire at 1:20 p.m. Tuesday. Their home is a complete loss.

Neighbors said they heard more parts of the roof falling in overnight.

Crede said there wouldn't be a way to make what's left of the house safe enough for investigators to go inside.

The cause remains undetermined. Because of that, no cause can be ruled out, he said.

The investigation will turn to interviewing the police and firefighters who arrived first at the scene, Crede said.

"It's just not a safe structure to send anyone into," he said.

Aleisha Maines Beskid said a dryer was running and a television was on when she left about 1 p.m. to take her eldest son, Travis, 13, to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, where he had surgery on an ear.

It's not known if either appliance was a factor in the fire.

Beskid said family members usually leave the TV on for their dog. It was left on Tuesday, even though the dog wasn't there.

Crede said the origin of the fire appeared to be "up high" in the two-story house. Neighbors, however, said they saw fire on the first floor, in the area of the kitchen and living room.

The construction of the home would allow a fire to spread easily through the outside walls from the foundation to the roof, Crede said.

Beskid and her husband, Robert, paid off the house in August. They celebrated their first wedding anniversary the following month. She had lived there since April 2008.

"It was ours -- our first house," she said.

The house was insured.

"We're hanging in there. It's pretty devastating," she said while standing outside yesterday. "I don't even know where to go from here."

With her husband out of town for work, Beskid said she and the couple's children were staying with her parents in Shelocta, Indiana County.

The Red Cross was expected to put them up in a hotel and to help with food and clothing.

Donations and offers of help began coming in yesterday.

Beskid said the family had received some clothing, such as pajamas, socks and underwear but more is needed. She noted that her youngest, Olivia, 2, is potty trained.

If and when donations of bigger items come, such as furniture, Beskid said they'll need a place to put it.

The Friends Helping Friends program at the Kiski Township police station was accepting donations for the family.

Last night, they went to Kmart and bought some necessities for the family, said Kiski Patrolman Scott Ponteri, who heads Friends Helping Friends.

Donations of money, food, clothes and toys were streaming in, Ponteri said. Some were saying they might have furniture to offer.

"The public today is overwhelming, coming to us and giving us book bags and tennis shoes, pants, T-shirts, coats and stuff," he said.

Bill Walker, president of Apollo Hose Company No. 2, said the fire department would be asking for donations for the family at last night's bingo.

Fundraisers were being planned at the Apollo-Ridge School District, where Travis is in seventh grade and his brother, Lucius, 8, is in first grade.

At the middle school, a "hat day" is planned for Friday, where students will be allowed to wear a hat in school for a $1 donation, said grades 4-8 Principal Travis Barta. The student council will match whatever amount is raised.

The middle school faculty will be giving money to the family from their "jeans days," in which they pay to wear jeans in school, Barta said.

Similar fundraisers are planned at the elementary school.

Barta said that once the school knows more about the family's needs, a letter will be sent home with students seeking those donations. Donations from the public will be accepted at both schools.

Patrick and Katherine Green, owners of Grandma's House Daycare in Apollo, were looking to help the family by collecting clothes, toys and household items.

"Anything they don't need will be sent to the Salvation Army, so nothing will go to waste," Katherine Green said.

Additional Information:

Clothing needed

Robert and Aleisha Beskid lost the home they share with their four children in a fire on Tuesday.

The family is in need of clothes. Their sizes are as follows:

-- Robert: 34x34 jeans, XL shirts and size 13 shoes

-- Aleisha: Size 5 jeans, M or L shirts

-- Travis, 13: 30x32 jeans, L shirt (14-16)

-- Lucius, 8: size 8 pants and shirt

-- Chase, 5 (boy): 4T to 5T

-- Olivia, 2: 2T to 3T

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