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By Brian Bowling – photo by Andrew Russell – Trib Total Media
Sitting on a doorstep across the street from his burning home in Swissvale, Larry Knox said he was glad everyone got safely out of the three-story apartment building.
“Thank God, I’m out of there,” said Knox, who is visually impaired. “This young man named James on the second floor came and got me.”
Two firefighters suffered injuries while battling the four-alarm blaze on Saturday in the 2000 block of Monongahela Avenue, said fire Chief Clyde Wilhelm. He said he had no reports of any residents being injured.
Firefighters thought at first they had a roof fire, Wilhelm said. As it turned out, the blaze probably started on the second floor but quickly spread through the voids between the exterior and interior walls to the third floor.
An Allegheny County fire marshal is investigating the cause, he said.
One firefighter went by ambulance to UPMC Mercy for treatment of second- and third-degree burns on his neck, Wilhelm said. Emergency medical techs treated the other firefighter at the scene for minor injuries, he said.
Wilhelm asked Duquesne Light Co. to cut power to the neighborhood because high-voltage power lines pass in front of the building and posed a hazard to firefighters, he said.
By Braden Ashe – photo by Dan Speicher / Tribune-Review
Firefighters spent more than two hours Sunday morning extinguishing an apartment building fire at Drey Street and Kenneth Avenue in Arnold.
Arnold fire Chief J.C. Tedorski said crews responded about 6 a.m. to a report of a first-floor fire in the two-story building. When they arrived, he said, a “heavy amount of flames” was showing from a first-floor window and spreading through the second story to the roof.
Tenants in all four of the brick building’s apartments were home when the fire started but safely evacuated without injury, according to Tedorski.
Arnold, New Kensington and Lower Burrell firefighters began immediately combating the first-story flames before turning their attention to the roof, where the fire was spreading rapidly.
“Once the fire got in between the ceiling and the roof, it ran through the whole area,” Tedorski said. “It’s an old building — really well constructed — so there was a lot of heavy, hard work being done to break through the ceiling from the interior to take care of the hot spots up there.”
West Penn Power crews responded about 45 minutes into the call to de-energize a power line to the house that was raining sparks on the firefighters below.
“They were able to cut it down without interrupting power to any of the other houses, but there were some intense moments as the wire was melting,” Tedorski said. “It was burning off the side of the house and sparking. It could have posed a real problem.”