Harrison woman grateful for neighbors after fire damages house

November 30, 2018

About two decades ago, Mike Papariella painted his first name and his wife’s first name in green paint on the wall under the front porch of their Harrison home.

“Because we loved each other,” his widow, Margie Papariella, said Monday of her husband’s gesture. Mike Papariella died almost three years ago, in November 2015.

Those names survived a fire that damaged their home at 1350 Saxonburg Road late Sunday night. Margie Papariella hopes the names on the wall can be preserved as her home of 25 years is repaired.

Papariella said she was sleeping shortly before 11 p.m. Sunday, but her daughter, Elizabeth Papariella, 22, and her boyfriend were up.

Given the season, Margie Papariella said her daughter didn’t think anything of it when she first smelled smoke. But then she saw flames, and realized their house was on fire.

Everyone got out unhurt.

The fire started under the front porch, damaging the front of the house and some of the siding on the sides at the front. The melted blades of a fan on the porch ceiling were drooping down like wilted flower petals.

“I’m surprised the flag is still intact,” Margie Papariella said, referring to a colorful “Happy Harvest” flag on the side of the porch by the steps.

She said investigators told her they didn’t know what caused the fire. The cause of the fire remains under investigation, an Allegheny County spokeswoman said Monday.

Margie Papariella said she has insurance on the house. She said it’s livable despite the smell of smoke inside. The electricity was turned off, which means no heat, and the house has to be checked before it can be turned back on.

There’s some water in the basement, but Papariella said there wasn’t any damage on the first floor and they didn’t lose any possessions. She believes the house can be repaired.

“I guess these old houses are built tough,” she said.

She said she stayed in the house Sunday night because her dog, Napa, recently had surgery to remove a tumor from one of his hind legs and can’t travel.

Firefighters were at the scene until about 3 a.m., Margie Papariella said. She said neighbors from as far as Fawn came to ask how they could help, offering them a place to stay or anything else they needed.

“I have wonderful neighbors,” she said.

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