By Meghan Schiller

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Residents were forced to evacuate their apartments in the middle of the night when fire broke out at Murray Towers in Squirrel Hill early Tuesday morning.

Crews were called to the eight-floor high-rise apartment building in the 2800 block of Murray Avenue around 4:20 a.m. About 80-100 people live in the building.

Firefighters found fire in a third floor apartment. While making their way up the stairwell, they found one man who had suffered some minor burns and smoke inhalation. That person was taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital to be treated.

Another resident, described as an elderly female, was treated on the scene for smoke inhalation.

In a statement, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich said, “Thanks to the coordinated efforts of our first responders – police, fire, EMS – and with the help of the Port Authority, the Red Cross, and the Salvation Army, we probably adverted a tragedy. Unfortunately, one person was burned. Anytime a fire happens during the holidays it is hard.”

Firefighters were able to contain the fire to the single apartment. However, officials say there is extensive smoke damage on the third floor.

“It was pretty thick [the smoke]. You can see the line of demarcation in the hallway from when the door was left open, but they handled it. It was not difficult and a relatively simple fire to extinguish,” said Chief Darryl Jones from the Pittsburgh Fire Bureau.

Approximately 20 residents were forced from their homes by the fire. Most live on the third floor of the building. Fire officials could not say how long it would be before those third-floor residents would be allowed to go back inside the building. Everyone else is being allowed back inside.

“Until we can make sure that the systems in the building are functioning and it can be inhabited, we’re not gonna let them back in,” said Chief Jones.

The Housing Authority will now begin to clean up the severely burned apartment and smoke damage throughout the building.

A Port Authority bus was provided to keep the evacuees warm. The Red Cross and Salvation Army are helping those who were evacuated and displaced.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Meghan Schiller