JEANNETTE (KDKA) – An early Tuesday morning fire at an old medical facility in Westmoreland County is under investigation.
According to officials at the scene, the fire broke out in a three-story, brick storage building attached to the former Monsour Medical Center in Jeannette around midnight.
A passing motorist saw smoke and called 911. By the time firefighters arrived at the scene, the entire building was engulfed in flames.
Firefighters conducted a quick search to make sure no one was inside, and then they took a defensive approach to the fire.
Crews did some major ventilation work to make sure the fire didn’t spread to the rest of the medical center.
“It’s a big building,” said Chief Chuck Miller, of the Jeannette Fire Department. “We had to use a lot of resources, personnel to shut down 30 to make sure we can facilitate the job safely.”
By Tuesday afternoon, the state fire marshal had determined the cause of the fire was arson.
The entire hospital facility was closed in 2006 after it failed to pass a state inspection.
The newer part of the facility still has radioactive material, mercury, medical waste and other dangers.
In 2012, medical files and bio-waste were found inside the center. The state’s Department of Environmental Protection had to remove the waste.
This is at least the third fire in the last couple of years at the facility.
“It really kind of highlights the concerns we’ve had from the city that each time one of these occurrences happen our firefighters and other responders are out in danger and it really affects the safety of the entire community,” said city attorney Scott Avolio.
There have been three fires in the six-story tower part of the complex.
Legal problems and money affect the ability to move forward with demolition, which could cost nearly a million dollars, and affect the attractiveness of the property to a private investor.
“With the legal entanglements between liens and other actions against that property, S well as a missing or dissolved board, it becomes very difficult to ensure anybody that we would acquire title to that property,” he said.
But a number of agencies are looking to help.
Watch Harold Hayes’ report:
“We have been getting a lot of assistance and attention from county officials and state officials and everybody’s Ware of the problem. And hopefully within that we find a so,union,” said Avolio.