Tenant Believes Blaze May Have Been Caused By Electrical Malfunction

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HARRISON TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — A smoky, stubborn fire ripped through a two-story building in Harrison Township on Monday, gutting a physical therapy office on the ground floor and at least six apartments on the second floor.

It was reported just after 2 p.m. in the 1300 block of Alabama Avenue. Volunteer firefighters from Harrison Township and other nearby departments battled the fast-moving fire.

A dog was rescued by a security guard from nearby Allegheny Valley Hospital, who ran into the burning building before firefighters arrived.

“The back wall there was a partial collapse, and it also blew out the windows on the front of the building. We’re not sure what caused that. We had two minor firefighter injuries. One of them was struck by debris, the other had some asthma issues,” Hilltop Hose Volunteer Fire Company Fire Chief Mike Krzeminski said.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Dave Colabine)

Once the fire was under control, the Allegheny County Fire Marshal began its investigation, and part of that included putting up a drone to try to get a clearer view of the inside of the building.

Tenant Scott Peterson was in his upstairs apartment when the fire started. He thinks he knows what happened.

Peterson told KDKA-TV’s Ralph Iannotti, “I had some electrical problems over the weekend. I called the landlord and a contractor came in this morning and started working on the wall sockets. All of a sudden, we started hearing something, we thought it might be water dripping, and actually it was the flames crackling in the ceiling.”

Peterson said he has lived in the apartment for about 10 years. He and the other building tenants lost everything.

“It happened so fast, you know, I tried the sprayer on the hose to try to put out the flames, but it was fast,” he said.

The Red Cross said it was assisting four adults who were displaced by the fire.