Firefighter's parents killed in Pa. house fire

A former firefighter who lived nearby made attempts to rescue the couple

Joe Napsha
Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa.

ROSTRAVER, Pa. — An elderly couple died in a fire that destroyed their home early Sunday morning in the Rostraver Township village of Collinsburg.

The husband and wife, Marie A. Oblak, 81, and her husband, Lloyd D. Oblak, 83, were found inside their home at 808 Collinsburg Road, the Westmoreland County Coroner’s office said. They were pronounced dead at the scene at around 5 a.m., and the manner and cause of their deaths are pending their autopsies, the coroner said.

The couple were trapped inside their home, which was fully engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived on the scene at about 2 a.m., said Collinsburg Fire Chief Joel Koricich.

The couple were the parents of one of the Collinsburg firefighters, Koricich said.

“We know them well,” Koricich said.

Because the fire had spread through the house, Koricich said “we could only fight a tactical (defensive) fire, because it was so fully involved,” in flames. The chief, who lives about a half-mile from the house, said “you could see the glow in the sky” when he left his home to fight the fire.

The floor of the two-story house had collapsed shortly after the firefighters arrived on the scene, Koricich said.

Kevin Carlock, 54, a resident of the adjacent Voyager Estates Mobile Home Park, said he saw the fire from his residence and drove over to the house in an attempt to rescue the couple.

Carlock said he was “hollering so loud to wake them up.” He opened a screen door and a burning piece of weather stripping fell onto his arm. Carlock, a former Elizabeth Township firefighter, said he knew the door knob would have been too hot to try to turn.

Carlock said he also banged on a sliding glass door to waken the couple.

“I’m screaming at the top of my lungs, ‘Mr. Oblak, please get up and I could not get them up,’” Carlock said.

When two other men joined him, they opened a basement door, thinking he could go into the house from the cellar, Carlock said.

Carlock said he went a foot or so into the cellar and looked underneath the smoke.

“I could see the stairwell was on fire. I could have never made it up there to do anything,” Carlock said.

Carlock said he told the firefighters there were two people trapped inside the house, where flames were breaking through the left side of the house.

“I wish I could have done more,” Carlock said he told the couple’s son at the scene.

A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire, Koricich said.

Collinsburg firefighters were assisted by other units from Rostraver and West Newton.


©2020 Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)


Squad Co on scene assisting Collinsburg Volunteer Fire Company with a Fire-Dwelling-2A in the 800 block of Collinsburg...

Posted by Rostraver Central Fire Department on Sunday, July 12, 2020


McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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