MCKEESPORT, Pa. — The sole survivor of a deadly house fire in western Pennsylvania lost his new wife, her four young children and his disabled father in the Saturday morning blaze after the recently married couple tried to save their loved ones, family members said.
The fire in the Pittsburgh suburb of McKeesport claimed the lives of Hope Jordan and four children ages 2 to 7, as well as the surviving victim’s paralyzed father, according to family members.
Keith Egenlauf was hospitalized with burns over 55 percent of his body from the fast-moving fire that erupted shortly before 7 a.m., according to his aunt, Donna Ackerman. Egenlauf was in critical condition in the burn unit at UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh, according to a nursing supervisor.
Egenlauf and Jordan, whose Facebook page indicated they were married Dec. 7, initially escaped the flames but went back into the burning two-story house to try to save Jordan’s children and Egenlauf’s 56-year-old father, Ronald Edward Egenlauf, Ackerman said.
Relatives identified the children as Jordan’s son and three daughters: Dominic Jordan, 7; Autumn Jordan, 6; Serenity Jakub, 3; and Victoria Jakub, 2.
“He and Hope got out, and then went back in to get the kids,” Ackerman said. Keith Egenlauf was burned but managed to escape a second time, she said.
Mary Benton, 60, another aunt, who like Ackerman was a sister of the elder Egenlauf, said Keith Egenlauf and his father were always close.
“He stayed beside his dad no matter what. His dad didn’t do anything without him,” she said. Father and son had lived in the yellow wood-frame house for about 10 years, Ackerman said.
Ronald Egenlauf had been paralyzed from a stroke that he suffered about six years ago during surgery to repair an aneurysm and used a wheelchair, according to Ackerman. Alvin Henderson, Allegheny County’s chief of emergency services, said the dead man was found in a first-floor room he used as his living quarters.
“The other five victims, which would be the one adult female and the four juveniles, were in a second floor bedroom all together,” Henderson said. Investigators were combing through the rubble trying to determine what caused the fire, a process that could take days. Others were interviewing family members about the layout of the house and the victims’ living habits, in order to get a clear picture of where the family members likely were when the fire began and why they didn’t escape, Henderson said.
The chief didn’t know whether investigators had been able to interview Keith Egenlauf. The Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said autopsies would not be conducted until Sunday.
Associated Press writer Peter Jackson in Harrisburg contributed to this report.