Family of 5 killed in fire is mourned; cause still unknown

The Associated Press

BELLEVUE, Pa. — Friends and neighbors are mourning a family of five, including three children, killed in a duplex fire as investigators try to find out what caused it.

The Friday night fire in Bellevue, just northwest of Pittsburgh, killed Stephen Lasch, Angela Lasch and their three children, son Noah, 11, and daughters Kayley, 6, and Hannah, 4, authorities said.

Friends and neighbors mourn a family of five killed in a fire at their home in Bellevue, PA.

Autopsies show that all died of acute inhalation of smoke and fumes, the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said Sunday. All five deaths were ruled accidental.

Hundreds of relatives, friends and neighbors gathered at a vigil Saturday evening near Bellevue Elementary School, where the older daughter was a first-grader.

First-grade teacher Sue Emery, who taught Kayley and Noah, said they were happy children. She read aloud from a journal Kayley kept in her class, in which she wrote about how much she loved her family.

The crowd sang “Amazing Grace,” and several tearful classmates of Kayley’s released five balloons into the cloudless sky.

Stephen Lasch’s mother, Linda Lasch, said he had just started training for a new job. Angela Lasch stayed at home to care for Noah, who was autistic, and Kayley, who used a feeding tube because of a congenital hernia.

“They were a wonderful family — one of the most loving, close families,” she said.

Angela Lasch’s mother, Debra Abraham, said the family had experienced loss before — a miscarriage in 2010. She said Angela Lasch spoke joyously about the prospect of seeing her baby again in heaven.

She said Angela Lasch told her recently that one day soon she would see her baby girl again.

“’God has a plan, and he knows when it’s my time. And when it’s my time, I’m ready,’” Abraham said her daughter told her.

Officials said the fire appeared to have started on the first floor and did not appear to be suspicious in origin.