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Homeowner injured in Greensburg fire

| Friday, Jan. 4, 2013, 3:20 p.m.
Lt. Leroy Atkinson, with the Greensburg Fire Department, battles a house fire on S. Hamilton Ave. in Greensburg on January 4, 2013. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review
Firefighters work the scene of a house fire on S. Hamilton Ave. in Greensburg on January 4, 2013. Guy Wathen | Tribune-Review

A Greensburg man jumped from a second-story window to a porch roof and then to pavement below to escape a fire that swept through his two-story home in the 5th Ward Friday afternoon, city fire officials said.

Donald Stewart III was flown to UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh, where he was listed in stable condition, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Greensburg Fire Investigator Henry Fontana was called to the scene to determine the cause of the fire, which appeared to have started shortly after 2 p.m. in the first story of the mostly brick structure at 354 S. Hamilton Ave., said Greensburg fire Chief Ed Hutchinson.

“When I came out, the man was laying on the sidewalk,” said neighbor Carol Steeley. “The mattress was pulled up to (the second-floor window that Stewart jumped from) and already was burning.”

“He was moving his arms and stuff,” neighbor Ron Hassen said of Stewart as medical personnel worked on him on the pavement.

“It looked like he was awake and alert,” Hassen added. “I'm not sure if he came out the window or not. It was broken when I came out.”

Steeley and other neighbors said Stewart kept to himself and had his groceries delivered. He had lived in the two-story residence with his mother until she died about three years ago, neighbors said.

“You'd see the pizza guy (delivering food), but you'd never see him,” Steeley said.

The house was jammed full of items, making movement inside difficult, Hutchinson and other emergency responders said. Much of the interior of the home appeared to sustain water, smoke and fire damage.

Firefighters battled cold temperatures, ice and water pooling on South Hamilton as they worked to extinguish the fire near the border between Greensburg and Southwest Greensburg.

Southwest Greensburg police Sgt. Todd Brant was finishing up a traffic stop about a block away when the fire broke out. He was among the first to contact Westmoreland County 911.

“He was on his back. He was alert and conscious,” Brant said of Stewart when he saw him on the pavement.

Southwest Greensburg police Chief Chris Kent was in his office about two blocks away when a person came to the station.

The person said “I had to get down to Hamilton Street, that there was a guy laying on the sidewalk ... and a house on fire,” Kent recalled.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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