Kirby Wilson, the running backs coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers, is being treated today for injuries after a fire early this morning swept through his townhouse in Seven Fields.
Firefighters from Adams Township, and Callery responded to the blaze at 2:30 a.m. in the Estates of Seven Fields, a townhouse community where Wilson lives at 141 Jameson Way. Neighbors said smoke was pouring out of the house, and a maintenance man for the complex said a stove may have caught fire in the kitchen.
Wilson, who was the only person in the townhouse, was badly burned. David Van Atta, who lives next door at 139 Jameson Way, said the smell of smoke from the fire woke him and his mother, who lives with him.
Van Atta, who said he formerly was a volunteer firefighter, said he called 911 after looking outside and seeing smoke. He ran outside and pounded on the door of Wilson's home.
Another neighbor, Jim McCaffrey, said he had just gotten home from his job as a mail handler at the U.S. Postal Service facility on the North Side.
"I had just sat down and I heard all this pounding," said McCaffrey, who lives across the street from Wilson's home. He said he also heard Van Atta yelling for help and ran outside to join him until Wilson answered it.
The men said they talked with Wilson at the door, and Wilson repeatedly thanked them for rousing him. Van Atta said Wilson was burned on his arms, legs and the back of his head and was wheezing from apparent smoke inhalation.
"He said 'Thank you' about a million times," and also told the neighbors he was "fine," Van Atta said. The men said they tried to keep him conscious, speaking and on his feet, but said they were afraid to touch him because of the extent of his burns.
As firefighters began arriving and attacking the flames, Van Atta said they asked him to also roust other neighbors and get them out of their homes. Firefighters were on the scene until about 7 a.m.
Wilson was flown to UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh, but his condition is not known. He has lived for at least two years in the townhouse community in Seven Fields, which is adjacent to Cranberry.
"We always talk to him about the Steelers and ask him if we're going to win this time around," said McCaffrey. He and other residents of the community described Wilson as a friendly, good neighbor.
The fire's cause is not known. Alex Goetz, a part-time maintenance man for the Estates complex, said he believes the fire began in the kitchen and that a stove burner was left on.
The three-story townhouse is severely damaged and its windows are blown out, but it is still standing this morning. Blood stains are visible on the door jamb where Wilson gripped it after opening the door.
Steelers President Art Rooney II said team officials are praying for Wilson and his family. The team is scheduled to meet the Denver Broncos Sunday in a wild-card playoff game in Denver.
"We are saddened to hear about this unfortunate situation but we know that he has the best medical care in the country treating him," Rooney said in a statement.
"The entire organization is praying for Kirby to have a full recovery and we will be by his side through this difficult time."
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