PITTSBURGH (AP) — A house fire that killed four children, their mother and their stepgrandfather began in the downstairs living room, but its cause remained unclear, a public safety official said Monday.
Alvin Henderson, chief of emergency services in Allegheny County, said crews were focusing on that room as they searched for the precise location and cause of Saturday's fire in McKeesport, about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.
"We have identified the area of origin as the first-floor living room in the home and are concentrating our efforts there to determine the point of origin and cause," Henderson said in a statement.
The chief declined to comment further until investigators know more, but he clarified that the living room was separate from the "first-floor living quarters" that he described Saturday as being where Ronald Egenlauf Sr., 55, was found dead.
Egenlauf used a wheelchair and had been partially paralyzed from a stroke several years ago, his sisters told The Associated Press.
The county medical examiner said Egenlauf, his daughter-in-law Hope Jordan, 27, and her four young children died of acute smoke and fume inhalation and were likely unconscious before they were burned.
Jordan married Egenlauf's 23-year-old son, Keith, last December, and he was parenting her children from past relationships, all of whom also died: Dominic Jordan, 7; Autumn Jordan, 6; Serenity Jakub, 3; and Victoria Jordan, 2.
Hope Jordan and Keith Egenlauf initially escaped the fire, which broke out about 6:45 a.m., but went back into the burning house to rescue the others. Keith Egenlauf escaped again with burns over more than half of his body and remained in critical condition Monday at UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh.
Henderson said Saturday that Jordan was found dead with her children in an upstairs bedroom.
About 250 people raised lit candles into the air and sang "Amazing Grace" at a Sunday night vigil outside the charred two-story home.
Laverne Egenlauf, the mother of Keith and wife of Ronald, told reporters at the vigil that she had recently moved out of the home. Doctors expect her son will recover after extensive burn treatments, she said.