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Online fundaiser set up for Lower Burrell volunteer firefighter whose home caught fire

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A fundraising effort is underway to help a Lower Burrell volunteer firefighter’s family after their home was heavily damaged by fire Thursday morning.

Multiple fire companies responded to the blaze along Fairview Drive.

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Angela Veri has lived in the home for 14 years with her husband, two daughters and son, Blake, who is a volunteer firefighter in Arnold.

Donations to help the family are being accepted through a GoFundMe campaign.

Veri said her son was doing work at his grandmother’s house when the call came in and he responded to the scene to help battle the fire.

Nobody was home at the time, Veri said, but first responders didn’t know that.

“They knew it was Blake’s house and that he is usually home during the day, so at first they thought he was in there,” she said. “But they got there quickly and found out the house was empty.”

Veri was on her way to work in Apollo when a neighbor called to tell her that smoke was coming from the house.

The state police fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire but the initial report the Veris received from local fire officials was that it was likely caused by an electrical malfunction in the dishwasher on the first floor. The Veris said they were told it spread up the inside of the wall to a second-floor closet.

The fire marshal did not respond to a voicemail message seeking additional information about status of the investigation.

Firefighters had to work through a steady rainfall and a half-mile hike up a steep hill to stretch a supply line from a water source along Greensburg Road to the home.

Crews had to traverse slippery rooftops wielding hand tools and chainsaws to vent smoke and heat from the building and try to get to the flames.

Veri said the family was scheduled to meet with an insurance company representative on Friday to determine if the house can be salvaged.

“We were able to go in the house and I got some photos, but there really didn’t look like there was anything else to salvage,” she said. “There was a lot of damage from the smoke and fire everywhere. It looks like everything is destroyed.”

The family spent the night in a motel but have not yet figured out where they will stay until decisions can be made about what to do with the house.

Veri said the fire was an emotionally draining experience because it brought back difficult memories of the day nearly 30 years ago when her father and three other volunteer firefighters perished while fighting a fire in Brackenridge.

Her father, Chaplain Frank Veri Jr., died along with Hilltop Hose Lt. Rick Frantz and firefighters David Emanuelson and Michael Celicki Burns on Dec. 20, 1991 while fighting a fire at a furniture refinishing business on Brackenridge Avenue.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, tlarussa@triblive.com or via Twitter .





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