Dormont fire destroys pizza shop, apartments
The son of a former owner of a Dormont pizza shop woke up on Tuesday morning and saw a Facebook message from a former customer that his family's building on West Liberty Avenue was on fire.
“I was getting up for work when I saw it,” said Joe Varrati, 36, of Bloomfield, whose family operated Varrati Pizzeria out of their building for more than 20 years.
The five-alarm fire did significant damage, and the building likely is a total loss, Dormont fire Chief Jeff Arnold said. Varrati's family had sold the pizza shop, now called Angelina's Pizzeria, but kept the building. An owner of Angelina's declined to comment.
“It appears (the fire) started in the kitchen of the pizza shop,” Arnold said. The cause has not yet been determined, he said.
Firefighters closed West Liberty in both directions when the fire was reported at 5:15 a.m., Arnold said. The road remained closed more than four hours while firefighters battled the flames and smoke. No one was injured, Arnold said. Residents of the upstairs apartments escaped the building safely.
“It's crazy. I practically grew up in the building. It was our home away from home,” Joe Varrati said. “On Friday nights, it would be (his father), my mom, me and my sister (working in the pizza shop).”
His father, Francesco Varrati, 63, of Bloomfield, said he's owned the building since 1989.
“I don't have any words. I'm just hoping for the best. They told me it's a total loss,” Varrati said.
Residents said they lost almost all of their belongings.
“I woke up after 5 a.m. I thought I smelled smoke. I wasn't sure, but as I got up, the smoke alarm went off,” said Dave Held, 60, who lived above the pizza shop.
Held said he ran downstairs and went outside to look into the windows of the pizza shop. It was filled with smoke, he said.
“I'm a little bit in shock,” Held said. “I'm thankful, because I know the Lord woke me up.”
Allegheny County Chief Deputy Fire Marshal Donald Brucker said the building's roof collapsed into the second floor, then into the kitchen of the pizza shop.
Gary Muggli, 26, lives in an apartment next door to the pizzeria. Five other people live in the building.
“I woke up at 5:45 to what sounded like garbage pickup,” he said. “I looked outside and saw firetrucks. We all got out before they evacuated our building.”
The owner of that building, Anthony Marinelli, 41, of Mt. Lebanon said his four-unit building in the 3200 block of West Liberty — near the McFarland Road intersection — suffered smoke and water damage.
Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers linebackers are getting to quarterback with more regularity
- Pirates win bidding for Korean infielder
- No. 18 West Virginia pounds Wofford, 77-44
- Kids know best: It’s Santa magic
- Steelers notebook: Tomlin won’t ask for taunting clarification from league
- Pitt recruit Whitehead remains committed
- Robert Morris repels winless Delaware, 84-81
- Wear with confidence: Pump up your workout with stylish exercise gear
- Dixon says starters playing too much for Pitt basketball team
- Ex-Penguins defenseman Niskanen still miffed by coaches’ firings
- Penguins rally late but lose to Panthers, 4-3, in shootout