This rural western Pennsylvania community is in mourning following a house fire that claimed 10 lives, including a mother, five of her children and three grandchildren. “We know everybody, so it’s like losing one of your own,” said William Hrinya, mayor of Brockway, a town of about 2,000 people 80 miles northeast of Pittsburgh.
Three generations of Petersons lived together in that home and they were a tight family. The community’s small school district of just about 1,000 students has been hard-hit by the tragedy, said Amy Glasl, principal of Brockway Elementary School. Three children in the family attended her school; two of them died. The school Guidance Counselor, Barabara Fortunato, who has herself founded an organization called “H.U.G.S.” ( Helping Understand Grief Stages), has requested 60 teddies from Hugs Across America to help the classes deal with their loss as they return to school.