By Pam Surano

PENN HILLS (KDKA) — The Penn Hills Fire Marshal said he’s more concerned than ever about the safety of residents inside a local apartment building.

On Monday, a fire that was started intentionally hit the Valmar Garden apartments.

The building has been condemned, but there are still people living inside.

Fire Marshal Chuck Miller said the very unsafe conditions were made worse Monday night.

Mayor Bill Peduto and Miller both said they don’t understand how the building is condemned and yet people are still allowed to live inside.

They want answers before someone gets hurt or killed.

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

“One person told me last night they have a 4-year-old daughter living in there, which is not good for a child to have to grow up in that kind of environment,” Miller told KDKA on Tuesday.

The building has no running water and the fire marshal said the smoke detector systems are not working properly, and the fire Monday night caused further damage.

He said if the fire would have happened later in the evening, someone could have been killed.

“We did our part,” Miller said. “Eighteen months ago, we condemned the property and said it was unfit for human habitation and ordered everybody out. And then Neighborhood Legal Services, through an injunction, superseded our authority and our experience and basically put those people back into unsafe conditions,”

Most of the families left in 2018 when the building was condemned.

But Miller said after the injunction was filed, more people moved in and now there are more residents in the building than there were before.

The building’s ownership is currently in question.


The landlord wasn’t paying the bills and utilities were turned off before it was condemned.

Now because of the injunction, some utilities are on inside the building.