PLUM (KDKA) — The flames were high and intense.
The response was almost overwhelming for the Plum neighborhood.
Dozens upon dozens of firefighters battled the swift-moving blaze from inside and outside, from the ground and from up above.
The home, 50 Stonehaven Court, is likely a total loss.
Neighbors say they called 911 as soon as they smelled smoke.
“They kind of took a while to get here,” said Rocco Pietropola, a neighbor. “By the time they got here the flames were going pretty good. Before you know it, the whole roof was ignited and the flames started coming out. It all burned up pretty quick.”
About five residents told KDKA the same story. Puzzled by what they heard on the other end of the line when they called for help.
“It went into this automated [message] that their lines were either busy or they were putting me on hold,” Charity Pagano, another neighbor, said. “So, I hung up because I saw my neighbor across the street holding his phone and I asked him, ‘Are you on the phone with 911?’ He goes, ‘I’m on hold.’”
Some neighbors grabbed garden hoses to try to put the flames out.
Fire officials say they responded as quickly as they could.
“We got dispatched, and then they just kept reporting back to us that they had multiple calls on it,” Assistant Chief Dave Bender, of the Renton Volunteer Fire Department, said. “That there was a report of a possible explosion and there was smoke and fire seen.”
The fire fight that lasted through the afternoon and into the evening hours.
The Director of Communications for Allegheny County released this statement Thursday night:
“The County 911 Center had a very high volume of calls all at once reporting the fire in Plum. Our call takers must go through a protocol with each caller to ensure that it is indeed a duplicate call, and to determine whether there is additional information that can be provided to emergency responders. Our call takers are not the ones who dispatch, so there is no delay in response. The callers are just put into a queue (they are not put on hold) while the call takers work through that protocol. Dispatch is made by different personnel as soon as the first call is received and enough information is provided to do so.”