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Westmoreland

Victim identified in fatal Monday morning apartment fire in Irwin

| Monday, Feb. 26, 2018, 8:33 a.m.
Scene of fatal house fire at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., in Irwin, on  Feb. 26, where there was not a smoke detector in an apartment.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Scene of fatal house fire at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., in Irwin, on Feb. 26, where there was not a smoke detector in an apartment.
Irwin fire chief Justin Mochar at the site of the Feb. 26 fatal house fire on Pennsylvania Avenue..
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Irwin fire chief Justin Mochar at the site of the Feb. 26 fatal house fire on Pennsylvania Avenue..
The coroner responds to a fatal house fire at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., in Irwin, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
The coroner responds to a fatal house fire at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., in Irwin, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018.
A resident of the apartment building at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., in Irwin, reacts after the fatal fire, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
A resident of the apartment building at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., in Irwin, reacts after the fatal fire, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018.
After a morning fire left one dead, neighbor Mark Cassata, talks about banging on the doors to the apartments, and calling 911, after he saw smoke coming from the second floor apartment, at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., in Irwin, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018.
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
After a morning fire left one dead, neighbor Mark Cassata, talks about banging on the doors to the apartments, and calling 911, after he saw smoke coming from the second floor apartment, at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., in Irwin, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018.

The Westmoreland County Coroner's office has identified the man who died inside a second-floor apartment of a burning Irwin home Monday morning.

Michael V. Bova, 63, lived alone in the apartment at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., according to Coroner Kenneth A. Bacha. He was dead by the time firefighters got to his room.

Several neighbors and bystanders tried to help him, but were pushed back by the heat.

A state police fire marshal is investigating the 8 a.m. blaze at the home that had been converted into three apartments. It appears the fire was contained to a second-floor room that Irwin fire Chief Justin Mochar described as a living area in the front of the house.

"(Firefighters) did find a male that had succumbed to the smoke," Mochar said.

Firefighters extinguished flames within 10 to 15 minutes.

A neighbor, Mark Cassata, was headed to work when he spotted the fire.

"I just happened to glance over, and I saw smoke coming out the side window of the house," Cassata said.

Then he saw the flames.

"I ran down and banged on the door and just screamed," he said.

One woman came out when Cassata knocked on the door, and a third resident wasn't at home, he said. But they saw the victim's car parked on the street and believed he was trapped inside.

"The doors were just smoking hot, and we didn't even try to get in," he said.

Neighbor Mike Peters saw a lot of smoke from a window in the room where fire officials believe the blaze began. Neighbors described Bova as a quiet, friendly man.

"He kept to himself," Cassata said. "He was very friendly. Everybody in this town is friendly. It's just our way."

The woman who escaped sat on Cassata's porch wrapped in blankets. The other resident left work to come to the scene.

"It just feels bad something like this happened," Cassata said.

An autopsy will be performed Tuesday.

Beinhauer Funeral Home of Dormont will be in charge of Bova's arrangements.

Staff writer Jacob Tierney contributed to this report. Renatta Signorini and Paul Peirce are Tribune-Review staff writers. Reach her at 724-837-5374 or rsignorini@tribweb.com. Reach him at 724-850-2860 or ppeirce@tribweb.com.

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