Emergency crew have identified the 83-year-old woman who was recovered from a home that collapsed when it caught fire in Bethel Park, after flames and extreme clutter delayed efforts to reach the woman.
The fire began before dawn Friday at a home near the intersection of Highland and Heather drives, where the car of a woman who lived alone in the home remained in the driveway.
Officials said Elizabeth Cutone wasn’t able to make it out of the burning house because of the large amount of clutter.
"We're fine. We're just taking precautions,” Cutone’s grandson David Woehler said. “We’re seeing what's going on. Just handling it like anything else."
Neighbors told Channel 11's Dave Bondy and investigators at the scene that Cutone called some of them seeking a gun to harm herself hours before the fire. They've also described her as a "hoarder."
Neighbor Wayne Bock said he got an unusual phone call from Cutone Thursday night.
“She said I would end it all and that she was so depressed,” Bock said. “She was told she wasn’t allowed to drive anymore and I think that almost pushed her over the fence. She said, ‘How do I get prescriptions? How do I get food?’”
According to Bock, Cutone’s dog just died and her best friend recently passed away. She was also told just two days ago that she wasn’t allowed to drive anymore.
“She just kind of kept to herself. She was always trying to help people and doing nice things,” Woehler said. “You never think of these kind of things occurring, but it just happened and it makes you think about different perspectives.”
Emergency crews say they're treating the ruins as a "crime scene" but have not specified why.
Authorities have yet to say how or where they believe the fire started.
Bethel Park Fire Chief David Gerber said his crew originally had to fight the fire from the outside because it was too dangerous to go inside.
“We couldn’t actually get inside and remove walls and stud to get where the fire was. The roof collapsed so it was hard to get underneath where the roof collapsed,” Gerber said.
Officials have not said if any firefighters were injured battling the blaze.