By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The Gulf Tower downtown was evacuated Wednesday morning after a basement fire caused smoke to pour from the top of the skyscraper around the Weather Beacon.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Pittsburgh: Allegheny County Reports 994 New Cases, 12 Additional Deaths Over 72 Hours
Pittsburgh Public Safety officials say the possible transformer fire that broke out around 9:30 a.m. caused a power outage to half the building. The “active fire” was knocked down around 11:30 a.m. and smoke was being ventilated out of the building.
“This is a five-alarm response from the fire department today for a transformer fire in the basement of the Gulf Tower,” Pittsburgh Public Safety spokeswoman Cara Cruz said.
— Lindsay Ward (@LindsayWardTV) May 19, 2021
The fire was contained to the basement but caused smoke to fill the entire structure.
Fire officials say the smoke poured from the top of the building because “a ventilation shaft forces it out per building design.”
— Chris Hoffman (@NewsmanChris) May 19, 2021
People evacuating the building were unaware of what was going on.READ MORE: COVID-19 In Pennsylvania: State Reports 3-Day Total Of 11,208 New Cases, 105 More Deaths
“I didn’t smell any smoke in the stairwell coming down. I didn’t feel terrified or anything so I just wanted to get out,” said Jonathan DiBernardo, who was on the 21st floor.
“Everything was fine for a minute. Then the lights started flickering, then they went off,” said Thomas McDonnell, who works on the 24th floor. “Then there was an announcement over the building’s PA system that there was a fire emergency to evacuate.”
Firefighters went floor-by-floor to make sure everyone got out of the building.
Pittsburgh Public Safety said everyone made it out OK. One firefighter was taken to the hospital with chest pains. Officials said he is fine and has been released from the hospital.
Firefighters are making good progress in knocking down the fire.
They have determined the exact source.
Regarding questions about smoke coming out the top of the building, a ventilation shaft forces it out per building design. https://t.co/UypEWKv4BJ
— Pgh Public Safety (@PghPublicSafety) May 19, 2021
The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation.MORE NEWS: Sources: U.S. Representative Mike Doyle To Announce He Is Not Seeking Re-Election In 2022
This is not the first emergency situation in the building. Back in 1974, the group Weather Underground took responsibility for a bomb that damaged the 29th floor. No one was injured.