DONEGAL (KDKA) - A three-alarm house fire in Westmoreland County claimed the life of an elderly man Tuesday morning.
The fire broke out around 7 a.m. and the man became trapped inside his Donegal home Donegal.
Three people live in the home, but only two made it out alive. Family members are mourning the loss of what they call a great man.
Roy Kunkle, 82, was fondly known as R.J.
His oldest daughter, who is one of seven children, said he will always have a special place in her heart.
"My dad, he was a hard worker. He spent every minute of his time doing something whether it was butchering, farming," Connie Dennison said.
Dennison said he was also in the Navy and the Carpenters' Union.
He leaves behind someone very close to him - his adult grandson who has Down Syndrome.
"He has a grandson, Mark, and he and Mark - they have a bond that will never be separated," Dennison said.
Mark lived with Kunkle and Kunkle's longtime girlfriend.
They escaped the fire unharmed and tried to find Kunkle, but couldn't.
Officials say Kunkle went down to the basement around 5 a.m. to stoke the fire in his wood and coal burning stove.
"Around 7 in the morning another resident woke up and saw smoke, very thick that point in time," State Police Tpr. Stephen Limani said.
Officials are in the process of trying to recover Kunkle's body, but a fire started up in the attic, which is slowing things down.
Family members are grateful for their efforts.
"I want to thank the fire department for their efforts this morning and just for the community and prayers," Dennison said.
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