A house fire in McKeesport resulted in the death of two adults and four children, who, according to their autopsies, succumbed to smoke inhalation, coroners claim.
Allegheny County Medical Examiner Karl Williams told reporters that the CO (carbon monoxide) levels in the victims’ blood suggested that they had all been unconscious while the flames were sweeping through the home.
Five people were found dead in the second-floor bedroom of the 310 Express Alley wood-frame home: 27 year old Hope Jordan Egenlauf, Dominic Jordan, her 7 year old son, Autumn Jordan, her 6 year old daughter, Serenity Jakub, 3 year old daughter and Victoria Jordan 2 year old daughter. The only victim found on the first floor was 55 year old Ronald Edward Egenlauf, who had been left paralyzed after a stroke seven years ago and was confined to a wheelchair.
The only survivor was Keith, Mr. Egenlauf’s 23 year old son, who is in critical condition and was admitted at the UPMC Mercy Hospital. According to Dr. William’s statement, none of the victims had been conscious or attempting to escape when they died.
“There is no indication that they died of direct exposure to the fire. It’s really clear that everybody had acute smoke and fume inhalation. I feel very strongly, it’s almost certain, they were unconscious. There is no indication that they were alive at the time of the fire — no indication they were trying to escape.”
Dr. Williams said in his statement.
Until now, authorities haven’t pinpointed the cause of the fire, however, Allegheny County Fire Marshall Alvin Henderson Jr. said that there was no indication at the scene that the fire had been suspicious in nature.
The McKeesport Police Department will collaborate with the Allegheny County Fire Marshall as well as the police homicide unit to investigate the fire, as the cause of the blaze remains unknown. There is a lead, though: Mr. Egenlauf’s medical condition required him to occasionally use an oxygen tank, which could have contributed to the fire as it is highly flammable.
“I was told that there was an oxygen tank in the house. Whether it was in use at the time of the fire, I do not know,”
Tim Hanna, McKeesport Police Captain said.
The family did not have insurance so a funeral home owner, Theodore Schleifer, offered to handle the funeral arrangements free of charge. Ms. Jordan and Keith Egenlauf were married on December 7th, 2013, and they had been planning to renew their vows before the tragedy occurred.
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