Butler man dies after trying to save pets from house fire

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BUTLER, Pa. —

A Butler man died after he ran back into his burning home early Saturday, apparently to rescue family pets.

Firefighters found the body of Paul Jarvis Jr., 22, in a second-story bedroom of the home in the 300 block of First Street, Fire Chief George Ban said.

Ban said the fire was first reported at 12:05 a.m. Saturday and firefighters began arriving within 90 seconds. Firefighters made their about 10 feet into the home but were driven back by heavy fire and heat, Ban said.

"I had smoke coming right beside my bedroom window. I saw the flames and all that, so I grabbed my wife and ran outside," said Steve Whitmier, a neighbor.

Channel 11’s Brandon Hudson reported that Jarvis made it out of the house with guinea pigs, but ran back inside to rescue several other pets and never returned.Matthias Johnson, another neighbor, said one of Jarvis’s friends, who was in a car outside the house, went next door for help.

"It's about midnight and someone is pounding on my door, screaming fire," said Johnson. "It's just scary to see somebody so young die over something as simple as going after his pet."

Ban said firefighters got the fire under control within 30 minutes. The house was destroyed.

Jarvis lived with his father, who was at work at the time of the fire, along with one other person.

The American Red Cross is helping the others who lived at the house.

Ban set the damages at $125,000 for the house and $50,000 for the contents. He said a state fire marshal was investigating the cause of the fire, which is believed to have started in the kitchen in the rear of the home.

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