Kitchen fire leaves Steelers running backs coach badly burned
An early morning kitchen fire left Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson hospitalized with severe burns on Friday as the football team prepared for its first-round playoff game in Denver.
"It's a very unfortunate situation. We're keeping him in our prayers and hope things aren't worse off for him," said linebacker James Farrior, who called Wilson a part of the team's family. "It definitely put things in perspective. Football is not everything. Life is fragile -- that's a proper perspective."
Neighbors said Wilson, 50, was "totally out of it" when they pounded on the front door of his home on Jameson Way in Seven Fields just before 3 a.m. and coaxed him outside.
"He opened the door. All this smoke came out. He was all bloody. He kept saying, 'I'm OK. I'm OK,'" said next-door neighbor Dave Van Atta, 25. "He just had boxers on. His foot was just, like, melted. ... He was in shock. You could tell he was totally out of it.
"I just saw his whole kitchen on fire," he said.
Paramedics took Wilson to UPMC Cranberry, then by helicopter to UPMC Mercy, Uptown, according to Cranberry public safety director Jeffrey Schueler. Wilson's condition was not known last night, but neighbors described severe burns across his arms and legs.
"He walked out himself," said neighbor James McCaffery. "His hands were peeled from here to here," he said, pointing to one of his wrists. "His feet were peeled."
No one else was in the home at the time of the blaze, authorities said. The fire marshal from the Butler barracks of the state police is investigating the blaze and had not determined a cause as of last night.
The blackened hood of Wilson's kitchen stove, a few chairs and a pair of burned doors lay in the townhouse's backyard hours after the fire.
"First and foremost our thoughts and prayers are with Kirby and his entire family," Steelers President Art Rooney II said in a written statement. "We are saddened to hear about this unfortunate situation but we know that he has the best medical care in the country treating him. The entire organization is praying for Kirby to have a full recovery and we will be by his side through this difficult time."
Steelers players were told of the fire at a 9 a.m. team meeting.
"We really don't know what's going on," said running back John Clay. "He's a great guy. He's helped me out in the meeting and stays late to help me with film."
Other players, including Charlie Batch, took to Twitter.
"Our thoughts & prayers are with you & your family Coach Kirb," Batch tweeted.
In Denver, where the Steelers will play on Sunday, members of the Broncos offered thoughts and prayers for Wilson.
"We're all hoping for the best," quarterback Tim Tebow told the Tribune-Review.
Wilson has coached running backs for the Steelers for five years, according to the team. He previously held the same job with the Arizona Cardinals and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
A Los Angeles native, he played college football at Pasadena Community College and the University of Illinois before spending two seasons in the Canadian Football League as a defensive back and kick returner.
Wilson began his coaching career in 1985 at Pasadena Community College. He has five children.
"Coach is a smart dude who always wears a smile and motivates his guys," Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey said. "He's that coach that everyone likes. Hopefully, everything will turn out right. He's in all of our prayers. ... Hopefully we'll see him one day soon."
Offensive assistant Harold Goodwin will take over Wilson's duties in Sunday's game.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers remain confident in defense
- Berry wins Steelers’ punting job; Wing traded to Giants
- Steelers laud decision, praise Brady for taking on Goodell
- With most starters resting, Steelers turn in lackluster loss at Heinz
- Steelers notebook: Thomas, Moats only starting defensive players to see action vs. Panthers
- Bubble players get last chance to impress Steelers
- Steelers notebook: New kicker Scobee relishes opportunity
- Steelers accomplish mission to get younger, faster on defense
- In reworking contract, Steelers WR Brown gets hefty pay raise