PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A fire of suspicious origin destroyed one building and damaged two others in Glassport Saturday morning.
Neighbors say the fire is one more example of a dangerous problem in their community.
Witnesses took pictures of the fire, which started in a vacant building and spread quickly to two adjoining buildings on Monongahela Street in Glassport.
“We arrived on scene first chief officers on scene found this vacant building fully involved,” Glassport Fire Chief Wayne Lewis said. “Our fire department did all we could to save the adjoining buildings.”
“The flames were shooting like 40 feet into the air. The building was somewhat engulfed, wondering if it was going to go over to the garage,” business owner Jean Vanatta said.
Vanatta was concerned that flames would spread to her Glassport treasures business nearby, she was storing a number of items in one of the burned buildings and thinks she knows how the fire started.
“Homeless people, kids in there sleeping, catching it on fire, yeah,” Vanatta said. “I’m assuming that’s what happened.”
“There’s suspicious circumstances at this point,” Alvin Henderson with Allegheny County Emergency Services said. “The building that is of particular interest to us had no active utilities to it, so obviously from that perspective, that makes it suspicious surroundings of how that fire actually began.”
Firefighters from six other Mon Valley communities assisted the Glassport Fire Department.
A doctor’s office took heavy smoke and water damage. The building where the fire started was destroyed.
“There’s a good part of structural collapse inside that structure, so from that perspective the yeah the center building is a 100 percent loss,” Henderson said.
People in Glassport say it’s not the first time that building has been burglarized and set on fire, which makes many nervous.
The county fire marshal will conduct an official investigation into how the fire started.