By Andy Sheehan

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — When flames and thick smoke filled the Midtown Towers in the early morning hours of May 15, the residents fled, but Kathryn Fullone remained fast asleep.

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“I was in a deep sleep, I was. And me having hard time of hearing, I did not hear the alarm, but I heard him,” said Fullone.

She was saved only by the loud squawking of her pet parrot, Cleo.

“When I heard him and saw the smoke coming in my apartment, that’s when I got up, grabbed him, put him in his carrier and went do down the steps as fast as I could,” Fullone said.

She and about 50 others residents who escaped that night are thankful to be alive, even if their lives have been turned upside down.

After the fire, they were moved to extended stay suites in Monroeville, but now they’re moving again

Jim Richards has been holed up in a one-room efficiency for the past three months, but is moving to bigger accommodations at the Residences of South Hills in Baldwin.

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His neighbors will be following in the next two weeks and expect to live there for the next year while Midtown Towers is being renovated. He and the others would rather be going back downtown, but speak highly of building management for doing the best they could for the residents in trying times.

“The only real problems we’ve had is that most of us did not have renters’ insurance. Everyone lost some things. Some people lost everything,” said Richards.

The South Hills apartments are not furnished, and people like Yvonne Brown need to replace everything – furniture, tables, and even a bed.

“I’m trying to get that now, because I can’t move in there now and sleep on a cement floor,” she said.

But Catholic Charities have been helping in that regard, buying furnishing for the displaced residents. The United Way has started a fundraising campaign to meet these and other needs.

“We’re all just grateful for the kindnesses big and small that we’ve gotten,” Richards said.

If you would like to help, donations can be sent to:

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Julie DeSeyn, Vice President of Community Impact
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania
1250 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15230-0735
Attention: Midtown Towers Campaign