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WILKINSBURG (KDKA) — Crews battled a two-alarm house fire in Wilkinsburg on Thursday.

It started around 3:30 p.m. at a home on West Street near Biddle Avenue.

The building housed two apartments.

Residents were home when the fire started, but no one was hurt.

Watch Amy Wadas’s report —


Kaitlin Oliver said she lived in one of the apartments, but recently moved out because she felt the landlord had not been taking care of the building.

“I moved out of the apartment a week ago and happened to be subletting it and the new girl just lost everything within a week,” Oliver said. “I feel so terrible. It’s just an old building. The landlord, she lives far away, and you know, it’s not a vested interest for her. So I think that probably had some kind of contribution towards it.”

Firefighters had to pull out of the home because the flames were so intense.

“The structure was very unstable. The fire conditions were very poor. No one was in risk of losing their life, so no sense in us risking ours for just property, and we pulled out,” Fire Chief Darryl Jones said.

Firefighters returned after 9 p.m. to douse hot spots.

The Allegheny County Fire Marshal and Eric Parrish, Wilkinsburg’s code enforcement officer, were also called to the scene.

“I ordered an emergency demolition on the structure to commence within 24 hours,” Parrish said.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Bryce Lutz)

If a demolition crew doesn’t arrive within 24 hours, Wilkinsburg will be forced to demolish the home, which can cost anywhere from $23,000 to $30,000.

Code enforcement says they are familiar with the owner and there is insurance on the building, so they’re hoping the borough doesn’t have to bear the cost of taking the home down.

The Red Cross is assisting the residents.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.