A suburban duplex suddenly burst into flames on Friday night, killing a mother, a father and their three children.
Police don’t believe that there was any suspicious behavior prior to the fire, claiming that it was merely an unfortunate accident. Crews arrived and found “heavy fire” blazing from the left side of the duplex and pulled five victims from the home, Bellevue fire Chief Glenn Pritchard said.
Angela Lasch, 38, was pronounced dead along with her son Noah, 11, and daughters Kayley, 6, and Hannah, 4, the county medical examiner’s office said. Lasch’s husband and the children’s father, Stephen Lasch, 41, was pronounced dead Saturday afternoon, a county spokeswoman said.
Two people living on the right side of the duplex managed to escape alive. Neighbor Crandall Reeves watched as firefighters carried several people out of the house. “This is just horrible, man,” Reeves told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “This is just crazy. I was just wondering where the kids were at.”
Reeves said he often saw the Lasch family’s children riding their bicycles through the streets, waving “hello” whenever they passed by. Another neighbor, Bob Patton, said he saw paramedics trying to revive the two kids. “It just tears at you. I can’t stop thinking about it. All fires are bad, but when there’s kids involved it’s just so very tragic,” said Patton, who mentioned that he woke up with tears in his eyes the following morning.
Jeffrey Stern said he and his wife, Lana Stern, started to rent out their home to the family, noting that they were always pleasant. “We’re both just devastated. We’re still in shock. We just can’t get our heads wrapped around this yet,” he told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “You see stories like this in the news, and you never imagine it happening to you. It’s just beyond terrible.”
The root of the fire is still unknown, but county emergency services chief and fire marshal Matt Brown said Saturday that “there does not appear to be anything suspicious at this point.” He said that the fire seemed to have started on the first floor.
Bellevue police had part of the street on lock down in order to investigate the house, which was still partly in flames.
Many gathered on Saturday evening behind Bellevue Elementary School where the daughter Kayley attended to express their grief. The school also hosted grief sessions for those traumatized by the event.