New Castle News

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March 1, 2014

East Side man dies in fire

NEW CASTLE — An East Side man died after a fire destroyed his house Thursday night.

Edwin Sheffield Lewis, 61, was found in an upstairs bedroom in the front of the house at 761 Lathrop St.

New Castle firefighters said he was alive but unconscious when he was taken from the house to Jameson Hospital. Lawrence County Coroner Russell Noga pronounced him dead at 11:42 p.m. Noga said Lewis sustained no burns.

Noga said an autopsy was done Friday at the Heritage Valley Health System in Beaver County. The cause of death, he said, was acute smoke inhalation due to carbon monoxide. He ruled the death accidental.

Fire investigators said Lewis, his wife and two children lived in the house for several years. He was alone in the house at the time of the fire.

Firefighters said smoke and flames were seen coming from a downstairs front window and licking over the front porch roof of the two-story, frame house when they arrived just after 10:50 p.m. Firefighters remained at the scene until after 2 a.m. Friday.

Firefighters said they had been told someone was inside the house. They said they entered the building through a side door, went up the stairs and quickly located the victim, who was taken by ambulance to Jameson.

Crews battled ice and single-digit temperatures as well as fire. Officials said the blaze “went to a three-alarm fire” — meaning three crews — for a total of 21 firefighters who were called.

Firefighters said they believe the blaze was unintentional, possibly beginning in the living room and spreading up the wall to the bedroom, which was above the living room.

The Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal and New Castle Police Department fire investigator were called Friday morning to determine the cause. Although the cause has not yet been determined and the investigation is continuing, Trooper Luke Nelson and Sgt. David Viggiano said it does not appear to be suspicious.

The house sustained a lot of damage, firefighters said, but it was confined to the living room at the front of the building.

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