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Two children dead in fast-moving North Braddock house fire

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 5:04 p.m.
A house fire in North Braddock on Jan. 4, 2013, claimed the lives of 3-year-old twins Kyier (left) and Dyier Arthur.
AForest Hills volunteer firefighter works to put out a flaming piece of the house on Rebecca Avenue in North Braddock where two young lives were lost on Friday January 4, 2013. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
A volunteer firefighter works to tear down a flaming piece of the house on Rebecca Avenue in North Braddock where two young lives were lost on Friday January 4, 2013. Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review

Ronald Reed was shopping on Friday afternoon when he got a call from a woman who was screaming, “Oh, my God, Ron! My house is on fire! My kids are inside!”

The bodies of two children — identified by Reed and their godfather as 3-year-old twins Kyier and Dyier Arthur — were found in the smoldering ruins of their home at Rebecca Avenue and 13th Street in North Braddock, said Alvin Henderson, chief of Allegheny County's Department of Emergency Services.

Reed said the children had been left home alone, but Allegheny County homicide detectives would say only that they were interviewing the mother of the children, who was identified by Reed as Dalawna Berran-Lett, 32. No charges have been filed.

“A contractor who was working in the neighborhood saw the flames around 3:30 p.m., called 911 and began pounding on the doors (to alert the residents),” Henderson said. “The first 911 calls said flames could be seen inside the windows.”

Henderson described it as a “fast-evolving fire,” and Braddock police said the fire was too intense when the first officers arrived for them to attempt a rescue.

Firefighters did get inside but could not reach the children, Henderson said.

Reed, an East Hills resident who said Berran-Lett is the mother of his 12-year-old daughter, said he and his wife were buying groceries when he got the panicky phone call.

“She said, ‘I left the house for a second to look for my (15-year-old daughter).' She was very hysterical,” Reed said. “I said, ‘Why would you leave the kids unattended?' She said, ‘I was only gone a minute. Oh, Ron, my kids are gone!'”

The body of one child was found on the first floor, and the other was found on the second floor, Henderson said.

A Braddock firefighter was injured when a portion of the second floor gave way, Henderson said. He was treated in a hospital.

The fire spread to the neighboring home of a 90-year-old woman, who was carried to safety by another neighbor, Braddock police said.

Darran Miller of Wilkinsburg, who said he is the twins' godfather, said their father, Kalem Arthur, is his cousin.

“Honestly, I just feel like the whole world ended,” Miller said. “Their dad never had a chance to hold them or see them.”

Miller said Arthur is in prison, and Allegheny County Court records show that he is serving a sentence for firearms violations in the State Correctional Institution in Wayne County.

“It's such a tragedy, a sad incident. I'm really messed up about it,” said Reed, who described Kyier and Dyier as “good kids.”

“They were beautiful kids,” Miller said. “They were smart. I just want everyone to know how intelligent these kids were and how much they'll be missed.”

Michael Hasch is a staff writerfor Trib Total Media. He canbe reached at 412-320-7820or mhasch@tribweb.com.

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