Altoona mom who lost son in recent house fire speaks out

Local News

Just under a month ago–fire tore through an Altoona home, taking the life of a little boy. It all happened just before 10:30 p.m.– on a Monday night near the end of April. Now– that boy’s family is speaking out, thanking the community for their endless support in this time.

Our Morgan Koziar spoke with the boy’s mom about what happened that day, and how the family is moving forward.

Losing a child is something that no parent should have to go through, but the family is finding some comfort from community members that have rallied around them. I spoke with the boy’s mother on what would have been his 8th birthday.

A little guy, filled with a lot of laughter, and plenty of personality….”He was just the most brave intelligent little boy – funny little boy….he would have been 8 today,” says Mom, Andilena Pacifico.

Andilena is celebrating her son’s life with family for the first time without him, “he was just really connected to us, I still feel like he is but I will miss his little body I would like to squeeze him one more time.”

And recalls what happened in the horrific moments that changed everything….”Me and my husband and my daughter had sat down in the living room to watch a movie. we were about 6 minutes into it, and my husband said, “do you smell that?” and I said, yes. and we ran up the stairs, we opened my daughters bedroom door and there was a wall of flames.”

Their son, Civario — had lit a fire, “We couldn’t see, he wasn’t scared he wasn’t yelling he wasn’t calling for us so we didn’t know if he was in there or hiding somewhere else. we didn’t know, it happened so fast, and I …couldn’t find him. I tried really really hard, we both tried really hard,” says Andilena.

She searched for as long as she could, “the second time I went in I (inhales deeply) and went in and I thought (faints) i’m not gonna, i’m going to die in this room.”

Andilena and her husband were severely burned – and had to be life flighted to Pittsburgh.
it wasn’t until then that she heard the worst words a parent could hear, “I heard the helicopter attendant say to the other, “oh their son didn’t make it, that’s so sad!” and he was like “yeah, I know.” that’s how I found out.” An unimaginable thing became this family’s reality.
for Andilena — comfort comes in knowing her son is now an angel.

“He was amazing, he had autism which made him brave. hyper intelligent but he also didn’t understand danger he didn’t understand boundaries or even pain for that matter. so…makes for a really good angel, but not for a little boy to stay safe.”

And has done her best to make peace with the situation…

“I’m not mad at God I’m not – I think he took him when it was his time. Our family is stronger for it,” and finds the strength for move forward with a little help from others.

“I’ve always known I had the best family in the world, but now I know that we have the best community in the world and I have the best friends in the world,” says Andilena. An outpouring of support from friends, family and even strangers –sending love and condolences and making sure their son will never be forgotten.


Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the upper floor of the home — which is now being renovated. However the Pacifico’s/Civarella’s say it’s too painful to return there and will search for another place to live. Through it all, Andilena says she’s forever grateful to the people who have reached out to help the family through their darkest time.

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