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D.A. Addresses Community Safety In Wake Of Tragic McKeesport Fire

MCKEESPORT (KDKA) - The investigation into a fatal fire that killed six people in McKeesport continues.

Nearly an entire family died in the fire, which started at a home on Express Way on Oct. 18.

Hope Jordan, her father-in-law and her four children were all killed. Firefighters say when they got to the scene, they found the home engulfed in flames. Investigators say the six victims couldn't get out.

Jordan's husband, Keith Egenlauf, was the sole survivor. He remains in the hospital at UPMC Mercy, where he is being treated in the burn unit. Doctors placed him in a medically-induced coma immediately after the fire because his injuries were so severe.

Community members rallied around the family after the tragedy, holding vigils and fundraisers to help offset medical and funeral costs. The fire victims were laid to rest on Monday. They were buried at the Round Hill Cemetery in Elizabeth Township.

The official cause of the fire still hasn't been determined, but original observations pointed to a space heater.

Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala thinks it was started by a cigarette on a couch. He met with leaders in McKeesport Wednesday to discuss community safety.

"The origin of the fire is in a part of the house where there's furniture, a couch specifically," Zappala said. "And we do know there are persons who smoked in the house. It is possible, but we have not concluded, that was part of the cause."

So far, there is no evidence that criminal charges need to be filed. Investigators have also found no evidence of code violations that may have led to the fire.

But Zappala wants community leaders to address Pittsburgh's rental housing market problems and fix the conditions of certain properties within the city. Wednesday's meeting was held to find a way to address those issues.

One idea includes creating a housing court in McKeesport where tenants could bring up issues with their landlords. Landlords could also use the court to help notify law enforcement officers of problems with tenants.

Zappala also plans to launch a campaign to crack down on absentee landlords. He says the city is also getting grant money to provide smoke detectors for people's homes, and to hire a second housing inspector.

"We're looking to indict people that do not comply with these ordinances. I'm talking about indictments; I'm not talking about citations for violation of the landlord-tenant ordinance in the City of McKeesport," said Zappala.

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