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PITCAIRN (KDKA) — A police officer, working his first day on the job, is being hailed a hero after saving a man trapped in a burning apartment building in Pitcairn.

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The fire broke out just after 3:45 p.m. in a two-story apartment building located in the 100 block of Brinton Avenue.

Of the five units in the building only two were occupied.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

A woman who was living in one of those apartments was asleep when the flames broke out, but she was awakened when first responders started banging on her door.

“They were banging on the door, they were about to kick the door in,” said resident Tearasha Harper. “But I woke up in time thinking, ‘what’s that banging?’ And I saw the fire department on the back steps and flew out the front door.”

The other person inside, 30-year-old Nick Martynuska, was walking back to his apartment to feed his two cats when he got trapped on a second-floor porch. It was the rookie officer and the police chief who came to his rescue.

“We noticed a guy stuck in the alleyway over there, stuck on the steps, and there’s flames in between us and him and he can’t get down. He [was] like in shock or something, and we had to talk him down,” said Officer Brandon Morris. “We told him to get down on his knees and crawl underneath the flames, and we managed to get a hold of him and pulled him and were able to pull him from the flames.”

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

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“By the time I made it the porch, they [the cops] were behind me. They saw the fire shoot out of the window,” Martynuska said. “I can’t believe this is happening. I got two cats and they are the most important things to me. The one cat that didn’t make it out was the pregnant one.”

The man suffered smoke inhalation, and was treated and released by paramedics at the scene.

KDKA’s Ralph Iannotti Reports:


Pitcairn Police Chief Scott Farally said he’s proud of the newest officer in his department.

“I really commend Officer Morris on a job well done. He’s a great asset to our department,” said Chief Farally. “It was a scary situation; however, though, at the end of it, everybody’s safe now. There getting ready now to get some help, and there’s no major injuries. I think it was a job well done by the officer and a good knock down by the fire department.”

The Pitcairn fire chief said there was heavy fire and smoke at the rear of the building when they arrived on the scene, but they were able to knock down the flames relatively quickly.

The Red Cross was called in to help the people who were displaced.

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The Allegheny County Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.