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NEW KENSINGTON (KDKA) — Fire tore through a home in New Kensington on Thursday, leaving five people homeless.
It happened around 5:30 p.m. on 7th Street between Grandview Way and Riverview Drive.
Five fire companies and 60 volunteer firefighters fought to save the home and those nearby.
They got everyone out safely, but the residents lost everything.
A volunteer firefighter happened to drive by at just the right time, and because of him and many other volunteer firefighters, lives were saved, according to the New Kensington Fire chief.
Emotions ran high as residents, shocked, lost all they had in no time.
Other residents who live just feet away from the burning home, ran from their homes, outside to safety.
Joe Davis lives right next door.
“If it would have moved five more feet this way, probably one, two, three of us would have probably went with the rest of them,” Davis said.
“The volunteer firefighters did a hell of a job. We have probably about 60 volunteers on the scene,” New Kensington Fire Chief Ed Saliba said.
Neighbors recorded the frightening moments of flames shooting from the home.
“I opened the door and whoosh, everything smacked me. I barely made it out. If it wasn’t for this guy coming and saying, follow my voice, follow my voice. He’s the one who got me out,” said Kaylene Keener, who lost her home.
Turns out that guy was a volunteer firefighter who just happened to drive by.
Kaylene and her husband lived on the second floor. Her son raced to be by her side.
“I’m glad that my mom’s alright. I just wished I knew about my dogs,” Joshua Keener, Kaylene’s son, said.
Another couple lived in an apartment on the first floor, a man in another unit. The woman on the first floor jumped to safety.
“It’s an old frame balloon construction type with insulbrick. The insulbrick was used years ago to make a decorative look, but under a fire condition, it’s extremely flammable,” Saliba said.
Firefighters say the family’s pets, a dog and cat, were lost.
The woman KDKA spoke to volunteers her time with the Salvation Army. Tonight they were here for her and the others in neighboring apartments.
There were working smoke detectors and the chief says he hopes the residents also had insurance, something he commits to stressing especially with side-by-side older homes.
No word yet on what started the fire.