Follow KDKA-TV: Facebook | Twitter

NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) – The Red Cross says six people are homeless after a fire ripped through several buildings in New Kensington.

A state fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.

Workers were boarding up businesses and extinguishing hot spots in the 400 block of 9th Street after the fire which brought firefighters in from as far away as Monroeville. Four businesses and several apartments were either badly damaged or destroyed.

After the fire was extinguished, Janice Dortenzo, whose custom drapery store was all but gutted, tried to salvage what she could with the help of firefighters.

Janice Dortenzo said, “I’ll tell you what went through my mind was the tenant who had his home? It wasn’t my business, it was his home. My neighbor has no home now.”

Jordan Brown was co-owner of a boutique shop in one of the burned out buildings. It was also destroyed in the massive fire. Making things worse, she’s only had the shop for five months, and it was not insured.

Brown told KDKA-TV News, “Everything else is gone. I seen this mannequin in the window, I guess I’ll take that home.”

The fire engulfed four-century-old buildings, and heavy smoke could be seen for miles.

The roofs in two buildings collapsed and then everything below the roofs was pancaked onto the ground floor. It’s expected two of the buildings will have to be demolished.

More than 60 firefighters battled the flames.

New Kensington Assistant Fire Chief Ed Saliba Jr. said, “We were very fortunate today. The volunteers worked extremely hard for about four hours to bring this fire under control. This was a hell of a fire load here. These buildings here, the newest one was built in 1925.”

One firefighter was treated for smoke inhalation and dehydration.

Ralph Iannotti