JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Two students from Greater Johnstown School District who died last month in a fire that swept through a two-story home in the Moxham section of Johnstown have been identified through DNA, authorities said.
Zy’vre Gaines, 8, and Nakiya Success, 15, died in the Sept. 29 fire in the 700 block of Highland Avenue, Cambria County Coroner Jeffrey Lees said during a news conference at his office on Tuesday.
Zy’vre was a third-grade student and Nakiya was a ninth-grade student.
The name of the 73-year-old woman who died Sunday in an apartment fire at Fulton I. Connor Tower is expected to be released after an autopsy and a check of dental records, Lees said.
There have been five fatal fires in Johnstown this year, he said.
“It’s the highest that we have seen in Cambria County in 16 years,” Lees said.
All have been accidental.
Six people were home when an electrical fire ripped through the Highland Avenue home at 1:33 a.m. on Sept. 29.
A 16-year-old boy was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center on Franklin Street after jumping out of a second-floor window. He was kept overnight and released the next day.
The body of Zy’vre was found at 3:50 a.m. on the uncollapsed portion of the second floor. Nakiya’s body was found at 7:20 a.m. on the first floor. Both died from toxic smoke and gas inhalation, Lees said.
The teenager suffered fourth-degree burns over 100% of her body, he said.
“It’s gut-wrenching,” Lees said. “When we’re talking about children, it raises the emotional level for first responders.”
Greater Johnstown School Board members paused for a moment of silence at the Oct. 5 board meeting.
City fire Chief Bob Statler said the Connor Towers fire was contained to the woman’s apartment and may have been started by a cigarette.
It has been a busy year for city firefighters, Statler said.
“Some of us have not seen this many fires in a long time,” he said. “It’s unfortunately part of the job.”
Lees said as the winter fire season approaches, smoke detectors should be installed, batteries should be replaced and each family should be equipped with an evacuation plan.
Many times, people die from smoke inhalation and not by fire, Statler said.
“The smoke is toxic,” he said. “The smoke gets them before they are able to get out of the house or before we are able to get on scene.”
In facilities operated by the Johnstown Housing Authority such as Connor Tower, Vine Street Tower and Town House Tower, residents are urged to stay inside their apartments during a fire.
“The construction of the building is designed to keep the fire in that apartment,” Statler said. “The elevators are recalled to the first floor so they’re not in use.
“We don’t want a lot of people moving down the stairways because we have to get up the stairways to get to the fire,” he said.
The facilities also are equipped with sprinkler systems.