SWISSVALE (KDKA) — Residents at a Swissvale apartment complex were forced to evacuate their homes Saturday afternoon when a huge fire swept through the building.
A wall of flames shot through the roof of a three-story apartment building in the 3700-block of Monongahela Avenue around 1:30 p.m.
Rochelle Moore saw smoke coming into her apartment.
“I could smell the smoke coming up through the vents, and I told my husband, I said it’s something burning,” said Moore.
James Thomas immediately made sure his neighbor didn’t get lost in the smoke.
“I knew he was blind and he doesn’t get through the building too well, so I knew he was home… just get him out the building,” Thomas said.
The fire started on the second floor. By the time firefighters arrived, it was raging out of control.
“The fire ran through the walls, up through the roof. We had to evacuate the building at one point, it was a pretty serious fire,” said Swissvale Fire Chief Clyde Wilhelm.
Neighbors could only watch as firefighters knocked out windows and ladder trucks poured torrents of water on the building.
“I done cried three times already,” said Rhonda Scott, a resident of the building. “I don’t want to think about what I’m going to walk into.”
While most possessions were destroyed, Tammy Payne and her mother, Shirley Remaley, found some joy. Their family pictures were saved.
“Just these two, that’s the only thing we got,” said Payne. “It’s a blessing.”
“That’s a blessing from God because there’s not one life was lost in this,” added Moore.
It took 75 to 100 firefighters to bring the four-alarm blaze under control. Two of them were injured and one was taken to the hospital with second- and third-degree burns.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross is assisting 13 adults and five children with food, clothing and shelter.
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