Fire sweeps through Vandergrift neighborhood
By Brian C. Rittmeyer
Published: Friday, Dec. 27, 2013, 11:24 p.m.
A lack of water was preventing firefighters from stopping a fire that was devouring house after house on a tightly packed Vandergrift street on Friday night.
A fire that reportedly started at 519 Burns St. about 10:30 p.m. leveled that home and had spread to up to three others within two hours.
“They can't get water. My house is on fire,” Sherry Grazulis said as her home of 16 years at 521 Burns St. went up in flames. “I'm standing here watching my house burn. Where's the water?”
Grazulis' home and the house at 519 Burns collapsed.
A Vandergrift firefighter said one hydrant in the area was found to be broken.
He said there simply was not enough water, and multiple buildings were on fire when firefighters first arrived.
Firefighters were calling on the water company to boost pressure to the fire scene. Tankers were also being used to get water there.
Two firefighters were reportedly hurt as the effort to contain the fire continued. Electric lines were down in the area.
The Red Cross of Western Pennsylvania said it was assisting five adults and two children with clothing and food in the immediate aftermath of the fire.
A Vandergrift police officer said they had been called to 519 Burns St. earlier in the evening for a man illegally burning boxes outside near the house. The man, who police would not immediately identify, was arrested when he became argumentative with police and for public drunkenness.
Police released the man after they say he sobered up. He was said to be in custody again for disorderly conduct as the houses burned, but had not immediately been charged in connection with the structure fire.
Grazulis said she was in her bedroom and heard explosions from next door at 519 Burns.
“I looked out the window and the whole side of my neighbor's house was in flames,” she said.
Doug Bruce, who lives at the corner of Burns and Holland streets, was getting water to his garden hose, which he was using to squirt water at his roof as embers from the inferno across Burns fell onto his home.
“I was wetting my own roof down. It was getting bad. I don't think they had enough water pressure,” Bruce said on the porch of his house, soaked from head to toe in near-freezing weather.
“I used my own hose,” he said. “There was a lot of embers flying on my roof. I was afraid it would keep hopping from one house to the next.”
Bruce said his wife had looked outside and saw the house across Burns engulfed in flames. “They just couldn't get enough water,” he said. “If they had more water, it wouldn't be so bad.”
Fire company chiefs were fighting the fire and were not available for comment at press time.
Brian C. Rittmeyer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4701 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Avonmore parents enter disabled child in contest for wheelchair-accessible van
- New Kensington police decline to identify stabbing victims amid investigation
- Allegheny Township supervisors agree to rezone land for farming
- 2 serious in New Kensington stabbings
- 4-year-old’s death from brain cancer won’t stop fight in her name