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Fire damages vacant Monessen house

Wayne Ray | Valley Independent
An early-morning fire at a vacant residential structure in the 300-block of Oneida Street in Monessen.

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Friday, Oct. 5, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

A Thursday morning fire inside an unoccupied Monessen house apparently started in the basement, according to Monessen Municipal Fire Chief Delmar Hepple.

The gold-brick house at 324 Oneida Street sustained moderate damage to its floors and walls when a fire broke out around 1:22 a.m., Hepple said.

A fire marshal had not yet determined the cause as of Thursday evening.

The basement's concrete flooring was charred black with a wide gash opened in the center of the ceiling through the first-level flooring.

The fire could have been a lot worse, Hepple said, because of the structure's balloon framing.

“(The fire) actually ran inside the walls and the floors, so we had to go to every floor and open up the walls,” Hepple said. “It was one of those fires that was breathing. It was a heck of a stop because it was in the center of the building and we had to work for it. It was very hot, very smoky.”

The home is a rental property and currently unoccupied and unfurnished, Hepple said. Firefighters from both Monessen companies, Rostraver No. 1, Lock Four and Donora responded. They initially had trouble navigating the narrow, steep hillside of Oneida Street.

“We had a couple difficulties working on the steep hill and recovered nicely,” Hepple said. “Everyone went home unharmed and that's the best thing that could happen.”

Rick Bruni Jr. is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at or 724-684-2635.

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