CHARTIERS TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – An apartment building in Washington County was damaged in an early Tuesday morning fire.
According to officials at the scene, the fire broke out in the 500-block of Pike Street in Chartiers Township around 4:30 a.m.
I just woke up and my house was on fire,” said James Gaston, a resident of the apartment. “Everything went so fast, I didn’t think I was gonna make it outside the house. It was instinct. I know I had to get out the house or I was gonna die.”
With that, 21-year-old Gaston was on his way out of the building. But before making it to clear air, he decide he’d better do a little more than scream fire to his neighbors.
“I ran through the whole building, start banging on every door, telling them to ‘get out, the house was on fire,’” said Gaston.
“I just heard a real loud banging on the door,” said Sierra Tamulinas, a building resident. “He’s our friend. He told us, ‘There’s a fire; you have to get out. Please call 911.’”
As Gaston woke them up, Sgt. Charles Harton of the Chartiers Township Police Department helped to get them out.
“When the call came in, it came in as possible entrapment. As we were pulling on scene, they said that they were pretty sure that everybody was out because of what the neighbors and what the police did,” said Assistant Chief Robert Fetty, of the Chartiers Township Fire Department.
People weren’t the only ones rescued; crews also pulled several pets from the building.
“Everyone is going home in one piece, and we did find three cats,” said Chief Fetty. “Two went to an emergency veterinarian, and then we found a kitten upon overhaul of the building. The kitten seemed fine.”
Hardly fine is the situation the 13 survivors, adults and children, are dealing with in the wake of the blaze.
“I lost everything, so I don’t know what we’re gonna do,” said Tamulinas.
“Try to get everything back on track. Hopefully, we get help. If not, work harder to do what I got to do to get back,” Gaston added.
While they think they know where the fire may have started, its exact cause remains under investigation.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross is helping those tenants who now have no place to live and no belongings.