SHADYSIDE (KDKA) — Authorities have now released the identity of the man killed in a seven-alarm apartment building fire in Shadyside Thursday morning.
According to emergency dispatchers, the fire broke out in a building on Bayard Street around 7:15 a.m. At its peak, the fire reached seven alarms.
The Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office identifies the victim as 60-year-old Mark Williams. Neighbor tell KDKA’s Harold Hayes that Williams was reclusive, and the he was supposed to be evicted today.
KDKA’s Harold Hayes Reports:
The Pittsburgh Fire Chief says Williams disconnected the gas flex line to the stove, and used some source of ignition to cause an explosion, starting the fire.
As firefighters battled the thick smoke and remaining flames, a woman could be seen standing at her window, occasionally covering her mouth. Two people also sought refuge on the roof of the nine-story building.
Pictures from a neighboring apartment show just how badly damaged the apartment is where firefighters say the blaze started.
Some tenants were guided down the stairs by firefighters who rushed to help. There was even panic as one firefighter and police officer briefly were unaccounted for in the darkness of the smoke.
A gym at the nearby Winchester Thurston School became a safe haven for the residents, including City Council candidate Dan Gilman who lives on the second floor.
NewsRadio 1020 KDKA interviews Dan Gilman:
“There was flames, visible flames. Thick black smoke coming from the side of the building. People were breaking out their windows calling for help,” Gilman said.
Tom Korpar lives on the fifth floor, next door to where the fire started. He and others describe a disturbing sound prior to the fire.
“It wasn’t like a firecracker, it was like an explosion,” Korpar said. “The walls to my kitchen were caved in. The refrigerator was leaning against the other wall. I could see into the other apartment, I could see flames.”
KDKA’s Lynne Hayes-Freeland Reports:
The Pittsburgh fire chief confirms the cause of fire was a natural gas explosion. The victim had apparently disconnected the flex line to the stove. Some source of ignition caused the explosion; it could have been another appliance or space heater.
Some residents were allowed to return to their homes later in the morning.
But Chief Darryl Jones told residents late Thursday afternoon that some will not be able to return to their apartments tonight. Some units will be without electricity and water.
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