By Bob Allen

CARNEGIE, Pa. (KDKA) – A house that was built by former Pirate great Honus Wagner in Carnegie was engulfed in thick smoke from a fire that started in the basement.

Crews responded to the fire on the 600 block of Beechwood Avenue. The fire reportedly started at 10 a.m.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Jeremy Stockdill)

Chief Todd Scott said the fire started near a dryer in the basement and spread quickly to the roof.

“When the stairwells burned out, we couldn’t get to where we needed to be on the interior of the house,” Scott said.

Chief Scott said the house took a lot of water damage and the stairwell from the basement to the top floor was destroyed. All of the occupants got out safely. The flames were contained to the top floor.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Jeremy Stockdill)

Passerbys could see the initials J-W, which stood for Johannes Wagner, next to the front door. A neighbor, Bridget Van Dorn, said that the house has seen some bad times over the years, but the new owner was trying to fix it up.

“It’s horrible. The guy who owns it has only had it for a few years, and he’s been working to put things better,” said Van Dorn. “Anyway, it was a total restoration.”

Honus Wagner, a baseball hall of fame member, was born in Carnegie. The Carnegie Historical Society has a museum dedicated to his life and accomplishments in the major leagues.

Jeff Keenan with historical society said Wagner lived in the house from 1917 to 1955 with his family.

“He was a well-known figure in the community. He’d sit on the front porch and talk with the kids and give them baseballs to play with and give them pointers on how to hit.”

The house has a historical marker and went up for auction in 2006. It never did become a historic landmark, but many in Carnegie consider it one.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but the fire chief believes the building can be salvaged.