PENN HILLS (KDKA) — This was a tough fire for firefighters to fight.
In addition to seven firefighters getting trapped, three firefighters were injured and tankers from several areas had to be called in because crews had trouble getting to water nearby.
The thick black smoke could be seen for miles.
Vicino Italian Restaurant, vacant restaurant on Allegheny River Boulevard in Penn Hills, caught fire around 2 p.m.
“It just reopened a couple months ago then I think it closed again. It’s been up and down. When it was the Rivers Edge back in the 90’s it was fine. It was always busy,” Swanson said.
The building was empty when the fire began.
“The restaurant manager was living above the restaurant. He left around 11 a.m. and I already made contact with him face to face here so there’s nobody else in the structure,” Penn Hills Fire Marshal Chuck Miller said.
Seven firefighters went inside only to find themselves trapped in the basement.
“Unfortunately, this building has a sub-basement we did not know about. The fire was underneath of us and we didn’t know,” Fire Chief of Penn Hills Station 221 Shawn Snyder said. “We did effectively have to call two maydays for multiple crews that were trapped inside and we got them out thank God.”
Three firefighters were injured. Two were among the firefighters trapped. One injured their hand and another had some minors burns to the neck. The third firefighter was taken to the hospital by paramedics.
“They transported one who got pretty substantial facial burns when they were trying to get this truck out of the way from burning,” Snyder said.
The heat was so intense a ladder truck costing $1 million was damaged. The same with a $600,000 rescue pumper.
Fortunately, the fire chief says they have two backup trucks to use for now.
After calling in ten tanker trucks because a nearby water source was hard to find, firefighters put out the flames with eight thousand gallons worth of foam.
The fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire. He says it’s too early to determine if the fire is suspicious.
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