Peters Township fire

Katie Anderson/Observer-Reporter

A Peters Township man died Dec. 2 shortly after firefighters pulled him from a burning house at 131 Clara Lane.

A Peters Township man died shortly after firefighters pulled him from a burning house at 131 Clara Lane in Venetia.

The victim who died in the Dec. 2 blaze was identified as 84-year-old Robert Gries, according to the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office.

“At the time we arrived he was the only person in the building,” said Peters Township fire Chief Michael McLaughlin Jr. “His wife was able to make it out okay. She had told us that her husband was still inside.”

McLaughlin said Gries and his wife, Patricia, were taken by ambulance to St. Clair Hospital, where the man later died from his injuries. She was treated for smoke inhalation at the hospital.

“He was brought out of the house what looked to be unresponsive,” McLaughlin said at the scene.

Multiple EMS workers responded to the 5:20 p.m. call, as well as Peters Township police and firefighters from North Strabane and Bethel Park. Several firefighters were evaluated at the scene for “cuts, scrapes, minor bruising” and one rolled ankle, McLaughlin said.

The fire is believed to have started in the basement, McLaughlin said. He said the multi-level house had two basement levels, which posed “a little confusing” for the multiple search teams that entered the house.

“We had a pretty heavy smoke and fire condition in the corner of the basement,” he said. “Getting into the nooks and crannies of the basement presented a problem but they were able to successfully extinguish the fire.”

One firefighter was treated at a local hospital for nonlife-threatening injuries, while two Peters Township police officers were taken to area hospitals for smoke inhalation and released.

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