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Woman killed in fire in New Kensington

NEW KENSINGTON, Pa. — Family and friends in New Kensington are grieving the loss of Angel Gray, 49.

According to the Westmoreland County Coroner’s Office, she was killed when a massive fire engulfed her home and the vacant brick building next door along 4th Avenue Sunday night.

Both buildings are now a total loss, according to fire officials.

Firefighters arrived at the scene around 6 p.m. Sunday, but high winds and the surrounding old buildings made their efforts difficult.

“We had the odds stacked up against us pretty good,” said New Kensington Fire Chief Ed Saliba Jr.

Chief Saliba said two police officers were the first to arrive on the scene.

They ran into the burning home to try to rescue the victim.

“The heat was very intense,” said Saliba. “Smoke conditions were almost zero visibility. Smoke was down to the floor. It was hot smoke. It was pushing. But they made an attempt. They got so far and then they had to bail out.”

Once the fire department arrived, an assistant chief was able to pull Gray from the home, but it was too late.

“We’re here to save lives and save property. The lives are the most important,” said Saliba. “When firefighters make an attempt and an unfortunate situation is the end result, it’s gut-wrenching.”

Friends, family, and community members are also feeling the loss.

“I’ve known Angel for many, many years and she was a good girl. She was a good girl, you know? She will be missed,” said Jill Jacob, who owns Jill’s Jitney Service.

She says she drove Gray all the time and recently saw her and her son.

“Just the other day we were sitting there holding a conversation and laughing and joking,” said Jacob.

Now, she’s offering her taxi service to help Gray’s loved ones.

“I’m just here as a member of the community to try to help the family members in any way possible,” said Jacob. “I will not charge if they need to go to funeral services, shopping, or whatever they need to do to get through this.”

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

The Pennsylvania State Police Fire Marshal and New Kensington Police Department are investigating.

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