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HOMESTEAD (KDKA) – A building at the Waterfront went up in flames Saturday as part of a training exercise for local emergency crews.

About ten fire departments took part in the exercise on Friday and Saturday at the vacant building, which was once a Fuddruckers restaurant.

“Today, we had the luxury through the Waterfront community to actually take this commercial building and use it for fire training,” West Homestead Volunteer Fire Department Assistant Chief John Gardell said. “It’s a great opportunity for us as fire departments to work together.”

waterfront controlled burn 3 Waterfront Building Goes Up In Flames For Training Exercise, Controlled Burn

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Tim Lawson)

The training exercise started Friday morning with smoke drills and hose line drills inside the building so crews could familiarize themselves with the exits and the layout of the building.

On Saturday, training involved crews battling fires inside the building.

“Today, we’re setting a number of fires inside the building and letting the teams experience what it’s like to work in a structure of this size, especially a commercial building with large open spaces,” Gardell said. “Once we’re done with the scenarios … we’ll let the building go from that point on.”

The exercise ended with a controlled burn to destroy the structure.

waterfront controlled burn 1 Waterfront Building Goes Up In Flames For Training Exercise, Controlled Burn

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Tim Lawson)

Gardell says the building was inspected prior to the exercise, and there were no contaminants in the building that would pollute the air.

The fire attracted some onlookers, including fellow firefighters, who were allowed to watch from a safe distance.

“Being a fellow firefighter myself, this is actually a rarity to get a controlled burn with a commercial structure like this,” Greg Dryburgh, of Penn Hills, said. “This is great training for them.”

Fire departments from West Homestead, Homestead, Munhall, Port Vue and West Mifflin participated in the exercise and controlled burn.

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