By Jodi Weigand
A Garfield man died this morning after he became trapped inside his burning home on North Aiken Avenue, authorities said.
Pittsburgh fire officials and the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office had not immediately identified the body. But relatives outside the home in the 300 block of North Aiken believe the man is Alan Nauls, 58.
It appears the two-alarm fire started at about 4:30 a.m. on the first floor of the two-story brick home, said Tom Huerbin, a detective with the city’s Fire Investigation Unit. When firefighters arrived, flames were shooting as far out as the sidewalk, he said.
The cause remains under investigation.
Nauls, a jitney driver in the Hill District, was an unabashed Oakland Raiders fan and even hung a team flag outside his home to show his allegiance, friends and relatives said.
“Every day, I would mess with him about that flag,” said Ray Williams, 44, of Highland Park, who grew up beside Nauls’ home in Garfield. “He was the best guy in the neighborhood. He was always there to help a neighbor out.”
Nauls’ niece, Tasha Spears, 34, of Garfield said her uncle lived with another of her uncles, who is out of town. She said Nauls was having furnace trouble and was using space heaters to warm the house, although firefighters didn’t immediately confirm that.
“He was just an all-out good guy,” she said.
Nauls’ sister, Sandra Harris, 59, of Penn Hills believed her brother died trying to save his pit pull and two Chihuahuas. The dogs died in the fire, Huerbin said.
Firefighters found Nauls’ body near a first-floor window, Huerbin said. The house sustained heavy damage, as did a neighboring home.