By Amy Wadas


HOMESTEAD (KDKA)- A big fire ripped through several businesses and apartments in Homestead early Thursday morning.

The mayor of Homestead says the building that caught fire was scheduled for demolition as part of the city’s revitalization project.

However, the building, which has been vacant for years, will be coming down quicker than originally planned.

Just after 2 a.m., firefighters got the call to respond to yet another fire on 8th Avenue in the city’s business district.

The fire started in a building that used to house Harry’s Clothing Store. The mayor says Harry’s has been shut down for 20 years and the city had bids out for the building to come down.

“We were going to make that a parkette, a little walking area of chairs because it’s been an eyesore for a while,” Homestead Mayor Betty Esper said.

Two neighboring buildings housing a laundromat and daycare center suffered mainly smoke and water damage. Several people had to be evacuated from their apartments.

“There were reports of people trapped in other exposures.  We were able to get them out,” Homestead Deputy Fire Chief Ron Kalupson said.

“My concern was mainly me, my roommate and my cat getting out safely,” neighbor Jeff Klein said. “I was just hoping it didn’t spread.”

Power was knocked out to several hundred people.

This fire happened just a few doors down from a seven-alarm fire back in January. That fire destroyed five buildings and five businesses along East 8th Avenue.

Edward McDonald, 27, was arrested and charged with setting the January fire.

“It’s hard for the businesses on the avenue wanting to get moving and be successful and get the avenue going. It’s not a good image,” Esper said.

No one was injured in the fire.  However, one firefighter was taken to a local hospital to get checked out.

Barrett Elementary School in Homestead had a two-hour delay due to Thursday’s fire.

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