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Glassport fire rips through abandoned home

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Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013, 6:22 p.m.

Fire in Glassport early Saturday gutted a vacant, two-story frame apartment building damaged by a May 28 blaze, causing smoke or water damage to four other buildings and forcing numerous evacuations.

“A man ran through the front door and said, ‘Fire,' ” said Kris Salhus, a waitress at the nearby Glassport Diner. “I said, ‘Geri, call 911.' ”

“When we first saw it, it wasn't that bad,” cook Geri Riley said. “Then it went up real fast.”

Alvin Henderson, Allegheny County chief of Emergency Services, termed the building along Hemlock Alley as “a 100 percent loss.” He called the blaze suspicious, though a cause had not been determined.

“When we came, it was fully involved,” Glassport Citizens Hose Company Chief Wayne Lewis said.

The fire was reported shortly before 7 a.m. and affected other buildings along Hemlock Alley, Monongahela Avenue and Seventh Street.

Lewis said chiropractor Dr. Joel Slafka's office building, which is adjacent to the gutted building, received smoke damage. The Glassport fire chief said there also was minor fire and heavy smoke damage to a warehouse and garage.

No injuries were reported.

“Our basement got flooded because of the water from that fire,” said Chas Smith about his apartment on Monongahela Avenue.

He said he and an elderly woman who lives in the building likely would be out of their apartments for up to two days.

Pittsburgh Red Cross spokeswoman Dominique Buccina said the organization was assisting with food and shelter.

Firefighters from McKeesport, Clairton, Homestead, Jefferson Hills, West Mifflin, Dravosburg and Elizabeth companies assisted.

Patrick Cloonan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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