Woman dies in Saltlick Twp. house fire

A 78-year-old Saltlick Township woman died Saturday following a fire that destroyed her home and sent her husband to the hospital.

Dorothy Ann Ward of 192 Rocky Ridge Road died in the fire, according to the office of Fayette County Coroner Dr. Phillip E. Reilly.

State police said Ward lived at the home with her husband, John C. Ward. According to police, at approximately 1:30 a.m., John Ward was awakened by smoke in the home and escaped out a side door. When John Ward attempted to go back into the home through the front door to get his wife, he was unable to get into the house due to the fire, police said.

Police said Dorothy Ward was sleeping on a couch in the living room at the time of the fire, but her body wasn't discovered until Saturday afternoon.

Ward was pronounced dead at the scene at 4:42 p.m. Saturday by Fayette County Deputy Coroner Alvin Sapp Jr. after her body was discovered by a cadaver dog.

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Roger Victor, chief investigator for the coroner's office, said Ward's body was found in what had formerly been the basement of the brick home.

Westmoreland County Deputy Coroner John Ackerman volunteered the services of Hanna, a five-year-old cadaver dog, who discovered Dorothy Ward's body in the rubble.

According to the Fayette County 911 Center, a call of an explosion and fire came in at 2:02 a.m.

Firefighters from Saltlick Township, Normalville and Westmoreland County responded to the scene.

The house, located in an area near Seven Springs Resort, was nearly flattened by an apparent explosion. John Ward was taken to Latrobe Hospital for treatment of injuries.

The cause and origin of the fire is under investigation by state police fire marshal Cpl. Thomas Maher.

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