By Heather Abraham

BELTZHOOVER (KDKA) – Firefighters were called to an intense fire in Beltzhoover Thursday morning.

According to officials at the scene, the fire started around 6 a.m. in a vacant home on Sylvania Avenue.

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Anytime a vacant house catches fire, there are suspicions about exactly how the fire could have started.

Pittsburgh arson investigators were brought on scene almost immediately after the fire was extinguished.

Firefighters surrounded the home and hosed down every corner as the fire continued to blaze through the house.

“Crews arrived to find first, second, and third floor, fire throughout the building,” Pittsburgh Fire Chief Gary Walz said. “We had to surround and drown the fire.”

The call came over as a vacant house fire, which meant the firefighters could be kept outside to control the flames.

“Obviously, if there are people inside, we’ll take more risks. But, not for an abandoned structure. No one was living in it. It’s not worth that much to begin with. Not going to risk our crews,” Chief Walz said.

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Neighbors said the house wasn’t completely vacant and they’ve had concerns about the house. They say once the family who lived there moved out, squatters moved in.

The last family moved out years ago. The house that caught fire this morning, as well as the one next door, have been home to squatters recently.

Pittsburgh arson investigators are looking into that as well as the fact that electricity may have still been powered to the house.

“There was power to the building. The wires on the front of the building burned off and were down on the front of the street. Duquesne Light promptly arrived and cut the power to those lines,” Chief Walz said.

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Heather Abraham