A Bridgeport woman and man were in critical condition in a Pittsburgh hospital this week, suffering from injuries received in a fire that destroyed their apartment building. Their three children, ages 2, 4 and 5, were killed.
It is impossible to imagine the couple's agony. What words or deeds can console a parent whose three children have been killed in a fire?
Still, their community ought to rally around them. Instead, some people have been circulating rumors the blaze was caused by an illegal methamphetamines "lab" in the apartment building.
That simply is not true. The cause of the fire still is being investigated, but a spokesman for the Ohio State Fire Marshal's Office has said there was no meth lab involved.
We don't know who began circulating the vicious rumor, or why he or she did so. But it gained wide circulation, even before investigators had time to look into what ignited the fire.
Knowledge of the rumor will be a comparatively small part of the pain suffered by the couple. Loss of their children will far outweigh any concern they may have over the rumor. But now, in addition to support and consolation, some in their community owe them more: an apology.