Man killed, 2 hurt in New Brighton house fire
A New Brighton man died early Thursday trying to rescue the family dog from his burning home.
“I just can't believe he's gone,” Amy Winters said of Shawn Moulter, her childhood friend. “He was such a fun-loving guy — would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. This is devastating to us.”
Moulter, who would have celebrated his 36th birthday on Sunday, and the dog were found dead in a second-floor bedroom of the 8th Street home.
New Brighton fire Chief Jeff Bolland said the smell of smoke awoke Moulter's fiancée, who was not identified, shortly before 4:30 a.m. She and the couple's 4-year-old daughter escaped the home.
“My understanding is that she woke him up and said the house was on fire,” Bolland said. “He told her to get the baby and get out of the house, I'm going to get the dog and I'll be right behind you.”
Moulter's fiancée had first- and second-degree burns to her right arm, and the 4-year-old experienced smoke inhalation, Bolland said. Both were taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital, Uptown. Neighbors said the dog was a pit bull named Amber.
“Shawn was all about his children, he lived for them,” said Melissa Milnes, 32, who lives around the corner and has known Moulter for nine years. “He was great with kids. My 8-year-old daughter would wait for him to come home from work and run up here to see him, and then get all shy when he talked to her. I don't know how we're going to tell her about this.”
Moulter has a 16-year-old daughter who lives with her mother, Winters said.
The state police fire marshal is investigating. Neighbors said they thought the fire started by a lightning strike during heavy storms that rolled through the region early on Thursday.
Bolland said lightning is not being ruled out as a cause.
“We have to examine all the evidence before a determination can be made, but it's a possibility, “ the chief said. “That house was struck about 10 years ago.”
Friends said the family had been renting the house for about two years with plans to buy it.
Lightning also was believed to have caused a fire early Thursday at a three-story home on Woodbine Drive in Cranberry, according to fire Chief Brian Kovac.
The fire was reported at about 3:30 a.m. and caused extensive damage to the top floor and attic, Kovac said. A woman and her two adult children were able to escape without injury.
Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or firstname.lastname@example.org.