Oct. 14—Matthew Kissell and his son, Daniel, have made a tradition of stopping at the Burger King in South Greensburg after his football games for what the pair call "Whopper Wednesdays."
This week, the seventh grader at Harrold Middle School and his father opted to head straight to their Hempfield home instead.
The elder Kissell is thankful he did because their house was on fire.
"Danny got out of the car, and my wife, Amy, was out in the driveway talking to our oldest daughter, Olivia, who had stopped by ... and I look over, and Danny's by the door leading to the kitchen waving his arms like crazy, and there's a cloud of black smoke there," Matthew Kissell said.
The Kissells and their family, which includes seven children ranging in age from 9 to 22, have lived in the home on the 400 block of Newport Drive for more than 20 years.
Matthew Kissell said he ran into the house to retrieve a fire extinguisher and attempt to douse the flames himself, but the "dark smoke was overpowering" and pushed him back outside. The fire was reported about 6 p.m.
He said the blaze is believed to have started near the stove.
"Olivia is a nurse, and she yelled at me for repeatedly trying to go back in. ... She says I tried six times, but I only remember three," Matthew Kissell said Thursday as he dropped by to check through the burned rooms. They were awaiting word from the insurance company and the American Red Cross, which was expected to lend assistance.
Responding firefighters said the fire quickly spread from the kitchen to the second floor and into the attic. The couple's daughter Lilly, 9, and two other sons, John, 16, and Sam, 14, fled the home after being alerted to the blaze.
Luke Kissell, 19, is a student at Penn State University in State College and Ben, 18, is a student at Seton Hill University in Greensburg.
Amy Kissell said the family was relieved no one was injured in the blaze that caused extensive damage. A damage estimate was not available.
"We're really blessed every one of us got out safely. And I can't say enough about the outpouring of support toward us in this community. ... It has been wonderful, and we can't thank everybody enough," she said.
The family's dogs made it out, but a pet milk snake did not survive.
Friends set up a GoFundMe account to benefit the Kissells that had raised more than $19,000 toward its $25,000 goal as of last night.
Paul Peirce is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Paul at 724-850-2860, email@example.com or via Twitter .