MCCANDLESS (KDKA) — A massive fire forced residents out of their apartments and caused a roof collapse at an apartment complex in McCandless late Wednesday morning.
The four-alarm fire broke out just before 10 a.m. at the multi-building Durham Court complex on Babcock Boulevard.
KDKA Special Report:
Heavy smoke and flames poured from the complex, sending multiple fire companies to the scene.
Officials say at the height of the response, 26 departments had been alerted to respond to the scene or be on standby to cover stations on scene.
The McCandless Police chief tells KDKA’s Amy Wadas all of the firefighters managed to get out of the building just before the roof collapsed.
KDKA’s Amy Wadas Reports:
According to the fire marshal, the blaze is believed to have started in an upper-story unit where no one was home. It then spread into the attic, working its way through the entire building.
The cause and origin of the fire are still under investigation.
There are 60 units throughout the complex.
The fire marshal says there were no major injuries or fatalities. However, about 15-20 people were evacuated from the building and three had to be helped outside.
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“There were some workers on scene and they spotted a fire. We got here only minutes after the 911 call and the roof of the apartment complex was totally engulfed, so we immediately started evacuating, doing what we could do and getting everybody out as expeditiously as possible, and we are hoping we were successful in doing that,” said McCandless Police Chief David DiSanti, Sr.
He said the third floor has extensive damage, and the first and second floors have smoke and water damage.
About 25 residents have been displaced by the fire. The Red Cross is assisting residents with short-term housing.
McCandless officials believe only three residents are in need of further assistance from the Red Cross.
KDKA’s Brenda Waters Reports:
Residents were seen standing outside the complex, watching the fire burn.
One woman who was pulled from the building was treated by medics at the scene, another woman had to jump from her balcony.
She told KDKA she was sleeping after working the night shift and did not hear the fire alarms going off, but woke up, saw the smoke and was able to escape. She got out with only her cell phone, and all her other belongings were destroyed.
“I work night shift; I got home at 8 a.m. I went to bed, and thankfully, woke up to flames shooting through the roof and the whole building engulfed,” said rescued resident Katie Seekford. “I came out the balcony, and they rescued me with a ladder and came down like that.”
The fire marshal says the building has fire alarms, but no sprinklers.