Indiana County mobile home blaze kills 2
Only a pile of rubble remained Saturday on the muddy ground where Theresa Firek's mobile home had stood off Route 286, about three miles from Clarksburg in Indiana County.
Twisted pieces of charred aluminum stuck from the pile like crooked fingers. Yellow tape surrounded the ruins. A muddy road leading up to the trailer had deep gouges left by large truck tires.
A fire that broke out late Friday destroyed Firek's mobile home, killing her son, Michael Jerome Collier, 9, and Vickie Milliron, 50, of Claridge, the mother of her fiance, Brian Shunk, who was injured, according to Indiana County Coroner Michael Baker.
Firek's other son, Dominic, whose age was not available, was flown to UPMC Mercy for treatment of burns and is in an induced coma, according to Justine Stano, a friend of Firek's and her co-worker at the Clarksburg Valley Inn in Clarksburg.
Shunk, 27, was admitted to UPMC Mercy Hospital with burns on his arms, family members said.
Shunk told his family that his mother awakened him on fire, and he took her outside, said Kerri Milliron, the sister-in-law of Vickie Milliron. He went back in to rescue Michael, but was unable to get to him, she said.
Shunk declined a telephone interview.
Collier's body was found at 3:20 a.m. in the rubble of the burned out structure. He died from smoke inhalation, and Milliron appears to have died from thermal burns, Baker said.
Both deaths have been ruled accidental.
Firek's neighbor, Krystal Christerson, remembers hearing a boom shortly before midnight.
“And I saw flames through my window,” said Christerson, who said she was in bed when she heard the noise. “I heard a woman, yelling, ‘Help me, help me.' ”
Two men living nearby rushed to the fire and tried to save the occupants, Christerson said. She said she saw someone being carried from the trailer and laid on the ground.
“It was horrible,” she said.
About a dozen of Milliron's relatives and friends huddled inside a South Maple Avenue apartment in Greensburg, trying to come to terms with her death.
“We're not good at all,” said Kerri Milliron. “This is a tragedy. This is terrible. She's been sick all her life, and this is how she passes away.”
Her brother, Scott Milliron, 43, said his sister had asthma, underwent bypass surgery and had other health problems but was just starting to get her life together.
“Vickie was the kindest girl you could ever meet. She wouldn't hurt anybody,” he said.
Kerri Milliron said Shunk told his family he believed the fire started on the porch.
Jack Lentz, who owns the trailer, said the fire marshal had not determined Saturday what caused the fire. Firefighters from eight companies responded.
It was a sad crowd at the Clarksburg Valley Inn Saturday afternoon.
“People are coming in buying beer and leaving their change for Theresa. We are giving our tips to her. Everyone is very sad,” said Amy Palmer, a coworker and friend of Firek's.
Firek was at work late Friday night when she received a phone call about the fire.
“She dropped the phone and left. We talked to her this morning. She is a sweetheart. That's why we are so sad. They are all very nice people,” Stano said.
The initial call to the Indiana County 911 Center came at 11:54 p.m., according to Baker. When firefighters arrived, the home was engulfed, he said.
Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or email@example.com.