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Tree trimmings spark fire in Mt. Washington

| Tuesday, April 30, 2013, 1:24 p.m.
Philip G. Pavely | Tribune-Review
Firefighters prepare to check for hot spots on Tuesday, April 30, 2013, after dousing a blaze on Estella Avenue in Mt. Washington.

Tree trimmings that fell on power lines sparked a fire on Tuesday that heavily damaged two houses in Mt. Washington, an arson investigator said.

Fred's Tree & Lawn Service workers were trimming tree branches when one fell on two power lines in the 100 block of Estella Avenue, causing the lines to touch and sparking an electrical arc, said Sgt. Rich Begenwald, a Pittsburgh police arson investigator.

No injuries were reported.

The lines sent an electrical charge to a house across the street and started a fire in a basement electrical panel, Begenwald said.

The three-alarm fire spread to a house next door when it vented from a basement window, city fire Chief Darryl Jones said.

Michael Bryant, 43, his wife, Sonja, 41, and their 10-year-old daughter live in the house where the fire started, but they were not home at the time, Michael Bryant said as he watched firefighters spray water into his house.

The Bryants' son, Dontae Williams, 25, who lives in Penn Hills, was in their home when the fire started, they said.

“He said he was in the shower and saw some lights flickering and heard banging,” Sonja Bryant said.

A Fred's Tree & Lawn Service employee pounded on the family's front door and warned Williams about the fire, Williams said.

Employees of the lawn service who were at the scene declined to comment, as did a woman who answered the phone at the South Park-based company.

The fire was reported at 12:39 p.m. Firefighters had it under control at 1:19 p.m., Jones said.

Both damaged homes are insured, Begenwald said. Begenwald said no criminal charges will be filed.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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