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Coroner: Irwin man died of carbon monoxide poisoning in Feb. 26 fire

April 14, 2018
Scene of fatal house fire at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., in Irwin, on Feb. 26.
Scene of fatal house fire at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., in Irwin, on Feb. 26.

An Irwin man died of carbon monoxide poisoning in a fire that broke out Feb. 26 in the house where he lived along Pennsylvania Avenue, the Westmoreland County coroner said Wednesday.

Michael V. Bova, 63, lived alone in the second-floor apartment at 306 Pennsylvania Ave., according to Coroner Kenneth Bacha. A spokesman for the coroner’s office declined to release results of toxicology tests.

The cause of the fire at the house, which contained three apartments, remains under investigation by a state police fire marshal at the Greensburg barracks.

The fire, reported at 8 a.m., was contained to a second-floor room that Irwin fire Chief Justin Mochar described at the time as a living area fronting the street. Firefighters extinguished flames within 15 minutes.

The property is owned by John and Marie Pirillo, according to Westmoreland County tax records. The Pirillos could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Mochar told council last month that a smoke detector in the apartment might have made a difference in saving Bova’s life. The fire chief asked the borough to enact an ordinance requiring inspections for smoke detectors when new tenants move into rental units.

Irwin police Chief Roger Pivirotto said Wednesday he investigated the fire and does not believe there was any ordinance violations.

Council on Wednesday did authorize Zachary Kansler, borough solicitor, to prepare an ordinance setting requirements for smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in buildings.

For new construction, the building codes require that the smoke detectors be connected to the electrical wiring, while existing structures need only to have battery-operated smoke detectors, Kansler said. Both tenants and landlords are jointly responsible for the maintenance of the smoke detectors, Kansler said.

With an ordinance that would require the inspection of rental apartments, Mochar said he would like to see the fire department involved in such a inspection.

Referring to the fatal fire in Jeannette on Monday that killed 87-year-old Shirley Kocherhans, Mochar told council that the such a fatal fire could happen in Irwin borough. He had told council there are residences in Irwin without operating smoke detectors, like the building that was destroyed by fire in Jeannette.

“We are susceptible to that kind of incident. No doubt,” Mochar said.

Joe Napsha is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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