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NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) — Fire officials say a child playing with a lighter may have sparked a fast-moving house fire in New Kensington on Tuesday.
The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m. along 4th Avenue in New Kensington and quickly spread to the home next door.
New Kensington firefighters tell KDKA-TV they were on scene in minutes as the fire raged and even rescued a dog.
“A working fire, second floor, fully involved,” said New Kensington Asst. Fire Chief Ed Saliba.
New Kensington Fire Station No. 1 is just a half block from the 500 block of 4th Avenue where heavy smoke and flames erupted.
Five fire companies and a mutual aid company responded. Everyone was out of the homes when they arrived, but the damage was significant in such a short time.
“The building of origin had the most significant damage. The rear bedroom had… it was gutted out pretty bad,” said Asst. Chief Saliba.
There is heat, smoke and water damage in the house.
A mom and her children, ages 11, 5 and 2, live there. A babysitter was with the children, and their mother was on her way home from work when she got the upsetting call.
“There is a possibility that the 5-year-old was playing with a lighter. I know that the police were talking to someone on scene,” Asst. Chief Saliba said.
Smoke poured through windows in the home next door. The neighbor’s dog had to be rescued by firefighters. Otherwise, that home wasn’t badly damaged.
As for the home where the mom and her children live, the assistant chief had another word of warning.
“Myself and quite a few other firefighters didn’t hear any smoke detectors activated,” he said.
The assistant chief says on closer inspection, there were no smoke detectors on the first floor.
He also says because of the age of the homes and how close they are together, it’s very fortunate they didn’t lose three to five houses, and no one was hurt.
The chief doesn’t expect charges.
The family has no renters insurance and has lost nearly everything.