Man, 70, dies in Versailles fire; firefighter injured
An overnight fire in Versailles proved deadly for one man.
The body of Arthur Periz, 70, was found inside a home at the corner of Walnut and Center streets by firefighters responding to a blaze that started around 11:30 p.m. Thursday.
When crews arrived, they were told no one was inside the home.
“When we got the initial reports, they said there was entrapment,” Versailles fire Chief Dave Obley said. “When firefighters arrived, witnesses said there was no one in the house.”
When crews were sent in to do a search and suppression detail, they found Periz in a bedroom, Obley said.
Obley said the victim’s son and nephew tried to go back into the house for pet cats and birds and were turned back by fire crews. According to reports, all but one of the 10 or 11 cats that lived in the house escaped safely. No information was available on the birds.
A firefighter injured his elbow responding to the blaze.
Periz’s son was taken to UPMC Mercy for treatment of burns.
Obley said damage to the structure was “pretty severe.”
He said years of renovations to the home made it hard for firefighters to extinguish fire within the walls. He said shingles covering the exterior of the home trapped heat inside. A bathroom and kitchen in the rear of the structure were gutted by fire and the rest of the home badly damaged by smoke and water.
Obley said firefighters from Versailles and surrounding communities “did a great job to keep it from spreading any further than it did.”
Versailles Councilwoman Linda Sheedy said the incident is a tragedy.
“It’s a heartache. The loss of life is bad whenever it happens,” said Sheedy, who witnessed the fire but didn’t learn of its fatal nature until later. “Our fire department and surrounding fire departments were there. I know they did everything they could. They need to be commended.”
Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1966, or [email protected].