Fund established for Greenfield family that lost 2 children in fire

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GREENFIELD, Pa. - Greenfield residents are stepping up to help the neighborhood family that lost two children in a fire.

“That’s the type of neighborhood that Greenfield is. The people there want to help,” said city Councilman Corey O’Connor.

Neighbors gave $341 in cash during the dedication of an entrance sign at the end of the Greenfield Bridge on Sunday, O’Connor said.

Pittsburgh Greenfield K-8 is collecting donations of store gift cards and clothing for first-grader Vernon Hayward, 7, whose sister and cousin perished in the fire.

Irihanna Hayward, 3, and her cousin Kamari Thomas, 4, died of smoke inhalation in the fire that struck their Mirror Street duplex on Friday, according to the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Greenfield school Principal Eric Rosenthall said Vernon’s grandparents brought him to school on Monday to be among his friends.

“He lost everything,” Rosenthall said. “He doesn’t even have a game to play with. It’s a tough time for them.”

Rosenthall, who is Vernon Hayward’s principal, said as soon as word spread Friday about the fire, he was overwhelmed with people asking how they could help.

“When you see what the community of Greenfield is doing, it’s beyond words,” Rosenthall said. “Our PTO got a letter out to the Greenfield community about what we needed to do here at the school. He had nothing but the clothes on his back, and that goes for his family members too. They lost everything in the fire.”

The school is collecting clothes, toys and anything the family might need.

“We don’t really know what they need and it’s difficult to shop for other people,” Rosenthall said.

Rosenthall said those who would like to make a cash donation to the family can do so at any First National Bank.

“It’s under the Hayward Family Fund and that can be given at any of the local First National banks,” Rosenthall said.

Vernon wears size 14 pants and size 5 shoes.

Rosenthall said Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Linda Lane stopped by the school to check on Vernon.

The Red Cross has been providing temporary shelter to the Hayward family and to the family that lived on the other side of the duplex, which was damaged as well, said Dominique Buccina, a spokeswoman for the Red Cross.

Candice Pearson, 38, an aunt who was babysitting the children when the fire broke out, is listed in serious condition at UPMC Mercy Hospital, Uptown. Pearson leapt from a third-story window to escape the flames.

Pittsburgh fire Chief Darryl Jones said investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire.

Pamela Seighman, owner of Grandview Cemetery in Export, said she spoke with relatives of the family and offered to donate two cemetery plots.

“I told them that’s the least we can do,” Seighman said. “I was just so upset by the whole story. I told them they could pick out two lots anywhere they want.”

Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.

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