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McKeesport fires displace several on Banker Street

| Wednesday, March 27, 2013, 5:11 a.m.
Eric Slagle | Daily News
Only ashes and debris remain where a home once stood at 2507 Banker St. in McKeesport after an early Tuesday morning fire that also damaged three neighboring homes.
Ronald Vezzani Jr. | Daily News
Firefighters from the City of McKeesport and surrounding communities work to extinguish flames in 4 homes in the 2500 block of Banker Street in McKeesport just before 2 A.M.Tuesday.
Eric Slagle | Daily News
An early morning fire leveled one house and damaged three others along Banker Street in McKeesport on Tuesday.

Fire displaced several families along Banker Street in McKeesport early Tuesday.

The fire started at 2507 Banker St. and quickly spread to two occupied homes and one unoccupied structure.

The fire reduced the first home to ashes and damaged cars parked on the street.

Vinyl siding on a house across the street from the fire scene had some warping due to the heat.

Maurice Robinson Jr. stopped by to look at what little remained of the 2507 Banker St. property. He said the house belonged to his father, Maurice Robinson Sr., who escaped when his dog, which neighbors said is named Cinnamon, started barking.

“By the time his dog woke him up, the whole upstairs was on fire,” the son said.

Robinson, his dog and all residents of the neighboring houses got out safely. One firefighter sustained a non-life- threatening injury and was taken to a hospital for treatment.

Inez Kelly, whose home was damaged, said she and another adult and two children had to get out of their house when the blaze started. She also said that Robinson and another son who lived with him were displaced as were two adults, including a pregnant woman, and a child living on the opposite side of Robinson's property.

The American Red Cross reported that it is assisting four individuals from two of the affected families with food, clothing and shelter.

“It went really quick,” Kelly said. She said with her house, “It's the whole side of the roof, the attic and one bedroom” that were damaged.

A number of witnesses said firefighters did not appear to have an adequate supply of water to fight the blaze.

McKeesport fire Chief Kevin Lust confirmed that crews did face challenges getting enough water to the scene. He said crews had to run a hose about four blocks to access an eight-inch water line because four-inch lines nearby couldn't supply enough water pressure.

Lust said tanker trucks from other fire departments were called in and one of them broke down en route to the scene.

He said fire crews did a good job containing the fire.

“They did a hell of a job to hold it to three houses,” Lust said. “I'm just thankful it wasn't windy.”

The cause of the fire remains undetermined. The Allegheny County Fire Marshal's office is investigating.

Eric Slagle is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1966, or eslagle@tribweb.com.

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