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Flames do heavy damage to New Kensington apartment

| Saturday, Nov. 10, 2012, 12:12 a.m.
Valley News Dispatch
Onlookers watch as New Kensington firefighters battle a fire at an apartment at 34 Willow Court on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
New Kensington fire station No. 1 safety officer Jim Moore checks a second-floor window that was previously vented after a fire at an apartment at 34 Willow Court on Friday, Nov. 9, 2012. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch
Valley News Dispatch
Strewn lumber rest in front of a mobile home at 702 Gulf Lab Road that was heavily damaged after a tractor-trailer truck pushed the homeowner's own car into the side of the house on Friday morning, Nov. 9, 2012. According to WPXI-TV, an idling ice delivery truck that was unmanned apparently lost its brakes and drifted down Gulf Lab Road and into this yard. The two people who live there where startled by the experience but unhurt. Jason Bridge | Valley News Dispatch

A woman lost her home Friday morning when fire damaged a Willow Court apartment in townhouses near the New Kensington police station.

First Assistant Chief Ed Saliba Jr. said flames destroyed the living room and caused smoke and heat damage upstairs.

The tenant, Julia Kilgore, was not home when the fire broke out, and no injuries were reported.

Firefighters couldn't find a cause for the fire. Saliba said he called the state fire marshal's office to investigate.

Kilgore was too shaken to comment at the scene.

Officer Joe Locke said several officers tried to get inside just after 11:30 a.m.

“We were forced back by the smoke, but we found out the occupant was at work,” he said.

Volunteers from New Kensington Fire Companies 1, 2 and 3 needed about 15 minutes to put out the blaze.

By noon, several inches of water covered the first-floor hallway. Firefighters placed fans at the doors to push smoke out of the two-story apartment.

Betty Moore, who manages the townhouses and high-rise for the Westmoreland County Housing Authority, said the resident told her she left for work at 7:30 a.m.

The authority said it will try to find another apartment for Kilgore, who has a 7-year-old son.

Kilgore's mother, Nancy Duncan of Third Avenue, said Kilgore has lived in the apartment for about two years.

“I feel sorry for her,” Duncan said as firefighters began their cleanup. “And my grandson just had his birthday. All his presents were inside.”Nearby, neighbors huddled in groups watching the fire's aftermath. Some of Julia's friends tried to console her.

“I hope she can get some help,” Duncan said.

Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or

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