Harrison woman burned in trailer fire
A Harrison woman who has held annual fundraisers to benefit various charities was seriously burned in a house fire early Wednesday.
Tina Slomkoski had to crawl through a window to escape flames and smoke in her mobile home at the end of Pleasant Avenue just before 2 a.m. Pleasant Avenue is a short, dead-end street off Bull Creek Road (Route 366) near the northbound on ramp of Route 28's Exit 14.
Slomkoski, 41, was in critical condition Wednesday afternoon in the burn unit at UPMC Mercy hospital in Pittsburgh. Officials said she was the only one home. Two cats are missing.
Police and ambulance crews found Slomkoski outside struggling near the home that was engulfed by roiling flames.
Officials said Slomkoski was rushed by ambulance for treatment of second- and third-degree burns over about 25 percent of her body.
Allegheny County Emergency Services Chief Alvin Henderson Jr. said the fire's cause and origin are under investigation. Two deputy fire marshals examined the rubble early Wednesday. Harrison police are assisting in the investigation.
Not much of the mobile home remained. Her parked car escaped damage, and firefighters also prevented the flames from reaching the woods that surround the property.
There are a handful of houses on Pleasant Avenue. Some neighbors told police they heard an explosion; others didn't.
Hilltop Hose fire Chief Tom Wesoloski arrived to find fierce flames shooting from a severed supply line for one of the propane tanks used to heat the home.
“The tanks were fueling the flames, so crews directed hoses on the tanks to cool them down and make sure they didn't explode,” he said.
It's likely ammunition inside the mobile home contributed to the fast-moving fire.
“It sounded like the Fourth of July for a while,” Wesoloski said, “but no one else was injured.”
Neighbor Richie Bosinec, whose home is about 300 yards away, said he didn't hear any explosions.“I heard my neighbors calling for me and then for 911,” said the owner of Richie's Transfer moving company.
“I ran over and she was on a stretcher at the ambulance. She was in pain. I hope she'll be OK soon,” he said.“She is very nice. She has been working hard to fix up the single-wide. She made it very nice.”
Slomkoski's ample yard showed meticulous grass care showcasing a fire pit, surrounded by lawn furniture, behind the home.Bosinec said Slomkoski's mother lives out of state but is visiting the area this week and staying with other relatives.
Slomkoski is a bartender at Boots, along Second Avenue in Brackenridg, and works in home health care.
Holds annual fundraiser
Carolyn Rogers of Brackenridge was sipping bottled water and talking with friends at Boots at noon Wednesday. Conversations among the lunchtime crowd abruptly stopped when a TV report about the fire aired. Slomkoski had been scheduled to work the second shift at the tavern.
Rogers said Slomkoski has been planning for her annual fundraiser in September.
“When I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, she held a fundraiser,” Rogers said. The inaugural pig roast was held at Slomkoski's house to benefit MS research.
“She has held them about every year,” said Rogers, who has known Slomkoski for about a dozen years. “Some have been for cancer research, for veterans or for children.”
At least 100 people pay about $10 each to attend, said Tracy Oliver of Tarentum.
“Everyone knows her,” Oliver said. “She has raised thousands of dollars to help people.”
“She has a heart of gold. I needed help, and she helped me, ” said Diane Geahry of Tarentum.
Rick Shoop of Mile Lock Lane, Harrison, grasped his pool cue case as he left the bar.
“She always held a party around Labor Day,” Shoop said. “People brought beer and pop and dishes. She solicited businesses and had prizes. People paid to attend and the money all went to a charity she picked the year before.”
Noting that Slomkoski won't be able to work for a while and her home and possessions went up in flames, Rogers said it's time for people to show that they care.
She said a fund will be set up at a local bank.“This year,” Rogers said, “It's time to help her.”
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or [email protected].