Attic fire destroys home in West Deer
A West Deer house fire on Sunday brought five fire departments to Marshall Street where low water pressure kept crews from extinguishing the flames before the roof collapsed.
No one was injured in the fire, which burned for a little more than an hour before crews flooded the roof from a 75-foot aerial ladder, according to Chief Steve McCorkle of West Deer Fire Company No. 2. Homeowner Tom Ingold reported the fire about 2 p.m. He declined to comment.
Neighbor Dana Wangler said he saw small wisps of black smoke escaping from the attic as he went to investigate Ingold's cries for help. From across the street, he could hear a “soft crackling sound, like a bonfire” emanating from the house.
“I saw (Ingold) try to get back in his house,” Wangler said. “As soon as he got to the door, he just turned around. That's when I knew it was going to be bad.”
Firefighters from Frazer, Rural Ridge and all three West Deer companies entered the house shortly afterward to battle the attic fire, according to McCorkle.
The crews pulled out of the house about 30 minutes later. The roof was collapsing and a fire hydrant down the street wasn't supplying sufficient pressure to combat the flames, which were now ripping through the ceiling.
“At this time of the year, problems with water pressure are pretty typical,” McCorkle said. “The pipes continually freeze and thaw, and it wreaks havoc on our ability to pull from the hydrant.
“We decided then that we had to go from the offensive to the defensive.”
As the roof collapsed, firefighters brought in a 3,000-gallon water tanker to supply an aerial engine, which can shoot 750 gallons of water per minute. Firefighters atop the 75-foot ladder began dousing the roof and extinguished the flames within four minutes, according to McCorkle, who declared the fire out at about 3:05 p.m.
“It's a shame we had to use the aerial because that amount of water pretty much destroys everything in the house,” he said. “Attic fires are tough, though, because there are no walls to contain it and they burn through the roof very quickly.”
The Allegheny County Fire Marshal's Office is investigating. An on-scene fire marshal declined to comment and a call to the office later in the evening went unanswered.
“We're glad no one was hurt,” McCorkle said. “This was the biggest fire we've dealt with this year.”
Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.