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Vandergrift man dies in fire

Chuck Biedka
| Saturday, June 3, 2006

VANDERGRIFT - A man who walked nearly every day along his hilly Vandergrift Heights neighborhood was remembered Friday with fondness after his death in a fire at his house.

John G. "Eddie" Lizik, 87, of Hancock Avenue, was found on the floor in the doorway between a hallway and a second-floor bedroom, according to Westmoreland County Deputy Coroner Dennis Johns.

A state police fire marshal was at the scene investigating the cause, and an autopsy was planned.

Lizik's wife, Antoinette, died a number of years ago, said Gary Duddy, whose pizza shop is near Lizik's house.

Lizik was described by neighbors as friendly. He had a slight build and always carried a walking stick.

Duddy said Lizik frequently paused during walks to pick up cans or scrap metal.

Police said a passerby noticed the fire on his way to work. The man pounded on doors, and someone called 911 at 7:24 a.m.

Sgt. Anthony DePanicis said he arrived two minutes later.

"I was on Franklin (Avenue) about 300 yards away, and I saw plumes of heavy, black smoke in the sky and the front of the house in flames," he said.

DePanicis said he tried to enter but couldn't because of the smoke and intense flames.

Vandergrift No. 2 Fire Chief Steve Plonka got there at about the same time. He said flames were shooting out of the front of the two-story frame house.

Crews had to battle the fire from outside the house because of the smoke, flames and heat.

Firefighters largely had the fire out in less than half an hour.

Lizik was remembered by neighbors who waited on nearby porches as a nice man.

Edie Maglacci, a neighbor since 1963, said, "His wife called him Eddie, but his real name was John. He was colorful but quiet, and he kept to himself."

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