Devastating Jeannette fire being treated as arson until it can be ruled out, police say

Jeannette Police Chief Derek Manley told Channel 11′s Andrew Havranek that investigators are treating Wednesday’s devastating fire as arson until they can safely rule it out.

He said it is standard procedure for a fire of this magnitude.

>> 4 children, father killed in Westmoreland County house fire

“The way we’re handling it is as an arson until we determine otherwise just because of the nature of what occurred, we don’t want to be lackadaisical and not cover our bases if it turns out to be one,” Manley said. “We won’t know that until we get the report from the fire marshal.”

Video from Drone 11 showed what was left behind after a fire tore through one home, killing a dad and four of his kids. That fire also destroyed the house next door.

“It’s very heartbreaking to actually see, like, this, knowing they lost so much,” said Daniel Bendix, who lives nearby.

Bendix and his mom, Ilene, live five minutes from Guy Street in Jeannette. They were stunned by the news of the fire Wednesday. They came to the home to add to the growing memorial of teddy bears, flowers, and candles left behind by neighbors.

“Jeannette is a strong community. Even though we are a small town, we can prove that we’re better,” Bendix said. “We know we are strong in our hearts.”

That community strength is showing in other ways, too. People are working to rally for the families impacted by this tragic fire, especially Miranda John and the two young children who survived.

“I was devastated,” said Jen Deemer. “I wanted to think of something I could do to help her.”

Deemer said she contacted the family Wednesday and set up a GoFundMe for them. Then she thought about doing a community memorial service, separate from anything private the family is holding.

It keeps growing.

“It snowballed. It literally, in one hour’s time went from being a one-hour memorial service with a couple of pastors speaking to a giant event,” Deemer said.

On Monday at the American Legion in Jeannette, there will be a memorial service starting at 6 p.m. Local bands will perform after. There will be food and drinks and other vendors – with all proceeds going to Miranda and her children.

“She lost her husband and four children. She lost a 1-month-old child. She’s still recovering from having that baby, the last thing she needs to worry about is money,” Deemer said.

Click here for other ways to help the family through different fundraisers and donations.

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