NORTH SIDE (KDKA) – Authorities are investigating the cause of a fire that broke out in a vacant home on Pittsburgh’s North Side Saturday morning and quickly spread to the occupied homes next door.

According to officials at the scene, the fire broke out in the 600-block of Tripoli Street around 10:30 a.m. and ended up causing heavy damage to five row houses.

“The heavy fire quickly spread to the two buildings on either side, and second and third alarms were requested,” said Deputy Chief Dan Hennessy, of the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau.

A neighbor, who did not want to be identified, could only watch as flames burned the roof while heavy smoke and water poured through the rest of her home.

“It’s terrible because they need to tear these vacant houses down or board them up so nobody can get in them because, your see, it could have jeopardized our lives,” she said.

All of the residents got out safely, and it wasn’t very long before firefighters were forced out as well.

“The heavy fire was showing in the back of the building, and also in the second floor,” said Deputy Chief Hennessy. “We knew right away we weren’t going to stop this fire, so we went defensive, tried to confine it.”

The roof eventually collapsed on the home where the fire broke out.

In all, five row houses were damaged by flames jumping from one roof to another.

Firefighters stopped the flames from spreading sideways, but the damage had already been done to Ron Lippert and Kathryn Toomey’s house. They recently spent several thousand dollars painting and remodeling.

“I think you know deep in your heart it was going to happen one of these days because… that place was dangerous when people lived in it,” said Toomey.

No one was hurt and arson investigators are looking into the cause. The American Red Cross is providing residents with food clothing and shelter.

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