PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Two families are homeless and at least four firefighters are recovering after a fast-moving blaze tore through a Swissvale apartment building.
It happened in the 7500-block of Ormond Street Monday afternoon.
Swissvale Chief Clyde Wilhelm told KDKA’s Kym Gable the investigation is focused on a roofing crew that was using a blow torch to make repairs in the rear of the structure. He says the fire started while those contractors were there and that they may have tried to extinguish the flames themselves.
“It also appears there may have been a delay in them notifying 911 of the fire. The fire broke into the third floor pretty quickly. We did have a firefighter down in a mayday situation. He was able to self-extricate,” said Wilhelm.
That Swissvale firefighter was treated on the scene, along with two others.
Two Edgewood firefighters were transported to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital for treatment.
The intense heat proved to be a challenge. EMS teams, assisted by the Salvation Army, monitored dozens of firefighters in special cooling tents.
Chief Wilhelm says no one was home at the time. However, a police officer rescued a dog from the burning duplex.
Jasmine Thompson thanked first responders as they walked by.
“No one was home but my Coco,” said Thompson.
Another tenant, Arletta Glenn, had no idea it was her apartment that was on fire when she spotted the smoke from miles away.
“I just happened to come on the bus and I seen the flames,” said Glenn. “I’m just glad nobody was caught in there. And I can still get up and go to work tomorrow!”
Firefighters have a lot of work of their own to focus on, including that one glaring question.
Gable: “You’re pretty certain, though, that torch they were using had something to do with this?”
Chief Wilhelm: “Our investigation is leading in that direction.”