Investigators have determined that grease ignited to cause the blaze that severely burned Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson last month at his home in Seven Fields, a state police fire marshal said today.
Trooper Luke Nelson of the state police barracks in Butler said Wilson had been cooking chicken about 2:45 a.m. Jan. 6 in the kitchen of his townhome on Jameson Way when the stove caught fire.
Nelson said evidence suggests Wilson, 50, was injured when he attempted to put out the flames. The coach, who still is undergoing medical treatment at UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh, has little to no recollection of the fire, Nelson said.
The cause of the fire has been ruled accidental.
According to a statement from the Steelers organization, Wilson was burned on more than 45 percent of his body and suffered consequences of smoke inhalation that will require multiple treatment procedures.
The team on Feb. 2 released updated information about Wilson's condition on behalf of his family. Wilson remains in serious but stable condition in the trauma burn unit at Mercy, according to the Steelers. He has started physical rehabilitation.
“The Wilson family would like to thank everyone for their prayers and support," the statement said.
Nelson said investigators had been delayed in determining an official cause for the fire because they were unable to speak with Wilson, who initially was listed in critical condition. Damage to Wilson's home was estimated at about $144,000.
A father of five, Wilson joined the Steelers in 2007 after spending 19 years as a college and professional coach, according to his official team biography. He previously coached running backs in 2004-2006 with the Arizona Cardinals and in 2002-2003 with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he worked with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin.