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Abandoned Clairton house burns

Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 4:11 a.m.

Philip Marion stood along Caldwell Street in Clairton on a cold, snowy Monday morning watching firefighters from six municipalities try to save his late grandmother's home.

Flames ripped through the two-story structure at 405 Caldwell St. around 9:45 a.m.

Clairton fire Chief John Lattanzi said water lines weren't frozen, but the cold conditions had an impact on firefighters.

“Yeah, the weather's been a factor,” Lattanzi said. “Been slippery and like that.”

Firefighters from Glassport, Jefferson Hills, Pleasant Hills, Dravosburg and Elizabeth assisted in getting the conflagration under control.

Glassport and Jefferson Hills used their ladder trucks to attack the flames coming from the roof, part of which eventually collapsed.

Hot spots near the top of the house rekindled as some firefighters made their way into the building for an interior attack.

Lattanzi said the hot spots were extinguished, and the fire was under control around 11:30 a.m. The building is a total loss, reports indicate.

“Luckily, nobody was hurt,” Marion said. “More memories than anything (were in the house).”

Marion's grandmother, Katherine Garland, died several years ago, and the house has remained vacant since then. His mother, Emma Marion, grew up there but moved to another part of the city. Marion said he's not sure what could have caused the fire.

“It's hard to tell,” he said. “The power was on, but there was nothing to be plugged in at all. The house was just about empty.”

Lattanzi said no utilities were on, and “nobody's said anything here” about the fire being deliberately set.

The blaze reportedly started in the basement and the county Fire Marshal's office is investigating.

Clairton Emergency Medical Service and Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services responded to Monday's scene.

Traffic was rerouted at Shaw and Linden avenues as firefighters battled the blaze.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or


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