Historic Church Home To Squatters, Fires
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The St. Peter and Paul Church in East Liberty caught fire this morning.
It’s an historic landmark, and was featured in the ‘90s movie Dogma, but has recently been plagued by squatters.
Fire officials say Wednesday morning’s fire was not the first, but quickly got out of control.
“We’ve had multiple fires here,” Battalion Chief Robert Cox said. “Too large a fire, it looks like they just let it get out of control.”
Cox has responded to a multiple fires at the church.
He said the one Wednesday burned through the floor over a 30-foot area.
Each time there is a fire, it threatens the Pentecostal Temple Church next door.
“I got a call from one of my friends, who told me that the church next door was on fire,” Brian Watson with the Pentecostal Temple Church said. “I looked outside and sure enough there was smoke coming from the steeple.”
Officials say the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau put a standing order in place that firefighters can only respond from the outside of the building, which is what they did Wednesday.
Brad Cuspard who works at the Laundromat down the street said he saw five people entering through the back door recently and was the one who called 9-1-1 Wednesday.
“I thought they were workers last week when I saw them,” Cuspard said. “But eventually they were squatters.”
“It’s unfortunate that whatever they were doing, it got out of control,” he also said.
Firefighters had to break open the door to extinguish the fire, but Cox says the city always does a good job boarding the church up again.