Officials ID 3 killed in house fire, including infant
Justin Smith woke Christmas Eve morning to firefighters banging on his doors, alerting him that his family was in danger and needed to evacuate their Stowe home.
Next door, firefighters raced to extinguish a fire ripping through a two-story house in which three of Smith's family members were trapped.
"I started going out the front, but the flames were like rushing this way, so I had to exit out the back door," said Smith, 29, who managed to get his 4-year-old son and grandmother to safety.
Soon after, he learned his aunt, cousin and cousin's 5-month-old son in the house next door had died.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner's Office identified the dead as Linda Tschudi, 50; Michael Tschudi Jr., 29; and Gabriel Glikis, 5 months old.
Smith said Linda Tschudi, his aunt, was a mother of three adult children. His cousin Michael worked at a nearby pizza shop.
"He was a good dude. He always had something funny to say," said Smith, who phoned Gabriel's mother to alert her to the fire.
Linda Tschudi had volunteered to babysit while the baby's mother, her daughter, went out to do some last-minute Christmas shopping, Smith said.
"They were good people."
Linda Tschudi's other son, Eric Tschudi, arrived and attempted to rescue them, Smith said.
"His brother and mother were inside, so he tried rushing in, but the fire department wouldn't let him in," said Smith.
The fire started just after 6 a.m. at the single-family home on Dohrman Street, according to fire marshal Martin Jacobs. He said a 5-month-old infant was found on the second floor. The two adults were found at the bottom of the stairs.
Fire marshal Martin Jacobs speaking on the fatal Stowe fire that killed three, including an infant. pic.twitter.com/oC5p8k6Dsw— Megan (@meganguzaTrib) December 24, 2016
Tribune-Review news partner WPXI-TV reported the fire was under control about 7 a.m.
The fire tore through the two-story single-family home, charting everything inside and leaving just the shell still standing.
Jacobs said the cause has not been determined.
"Everything is still under investigation right now," Jacobs said.
"I feel so bad. … I have grandkids, too," said Janet Arnold, 59, who lives around the corner from the house that caught fire and whose son is a volunteer firefighter who was called to the scene. "They were too late."
Gail Lawrence lives nearby and was friends with the grandmother who was killed and with the infant's mother, who was not in the home.
"It breaks my heart," she said. "I can't even wrap my head around it."
Gail Lawrence is friends with the mother of the child, who was not in the home, and with the grandmother who was killed pic.twitter.com/8eRMYz6Czy— Megan (@meganguzaTrib) December 24, 2016
She said that from what she understands, the grandmother tried to get to the infant but couldn't make it through the flames.
"The baby was spending the night at grandma's and the next you know God took him on Christmas Eve day."
She said friends will rally around the family.
"If I could change it all over I would, but I can't," she said.
Natasha Lindstrom and Megan Guza are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach Lindstrom at 412-380-8514 or email@example.com. Reach Guza at firstname.lastname@example.org.