Share This Page

Fire rips through Verona apartment building

| Sunday, March 23, 2014, 9:48 p.m.
Dan Speicher | For Valley News Dispatch
Firefighters battle a structure fire on East Railroad Avenue in Verona on Sunday March 23, 2014. The fire began shortly after 5 p.m., when Josh Skrib, tenant in Apartment 3, woke up to his kitchen filled with smoke.
Dan Speicher | For Valley News Dispatch
Firefighters battle a structure fire on East Railroad Avenue in Verona on Sunday March 23, 2014. The fire began shortly after 5 p.m., when Josh Skrib, tenant in Apartment 3, woke up to his kitchen filled with smoke.
Dan Speicher | For Valley News Dispatch
Firefighters battle a structure fire on East Railroad Avenue in Verona on Sunday March 23, 2014. The fire began shortly after 5 p.m., when Josh Skrib, tenant in Apartment 3, woke up to his kitchen filled with smoke.
Chaplain Evans, of the Penn Hills 222 carries dresses from Alterations by Gloria, while Fire Department while fire departments from Verona, Oakmont, and Penn Hills battle a structure fire at 733 East Rail Road Ave, on Sunday March 23, 2014. The fire began shortly after 5pm, when Josh Skrib, tenant in Apartment 3, woke up to his kitchen filled with smoke.
Dan Speicher | For Valley News Dispatch
Firefighters battle a structure fire on East Railroad Avenue in Verona on Sunday March 23, 2014. The fire began shortly after 5 p.m., when Josh Skrib, tenant in Apartment 3, woke up to his kitchen filled with smoke.
Dan Speicher | For Valley News Dispatch
Firefighters battle a structure fire on East Railroad Avenue in Verona on Sunday March 23, 2014. The fire began shortly after 5 p.m., when Josh Skrib, tenant in Apartment 3, woke up to his kitchen filled with smoke.

The Allegheny County Fire Marshal's office is investigating a fire on Sunday that ripped through the roof of an apartment complex across from the Verona Borough Building.

No one was injured in the fire, which brought six departments from Verona, Penn Hills and Oakmont to the two-story building on East Railroad Avenue.

Verona Fire Chief Ray Suchevich said the fire started about 5 p.m. in an upstairs apartment facing Diamond Way in the rear of the building. The tenants of the unit reportedly fled when their apartment filled with smoke and a neighbor called 911. The tenants declined to answer questions.

The investigating fire marshal declined to comment on scene and could not be reached later.

“Whatever caused it, the flames went through the roof pretty quickly,” Suchevich said. “From there, it just started rolling from the back to the front of the building. It was difficult to fight because it's a pretty big building and it's a tight space in that alley (Diamond Way) to get equipment back there.”

Fire crews managed to set up two engines along Diamond Way to combat the heaviest concentration of flames in the rear of the building. Another engine and two 75-foot aerials were set up along East Railroad Avenue to douse the fire from above.

After the roof partially collapsed in the rear, firefighters entered the building with handheld hoses. Other firefighters climbed atop the neighboring building to douse the flames through the apartment complex's side windows.

The fire was extinguished by 7:20 p.m., Suchevich said.

One of the building's four units is occupied by a first-story clothing alteration service called Gloria's Fixations, which faces East Railroad Avenue. Verona Mayor Dave Ricupero said the owner, who declined to comment, implored the firefighters to save the wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses for a client's wedding in early April.

“It's all she cared about,” he said of the owner. “It was one of the first things the firemen did when they got here, and it looks like they're going to be saved.”

Suchevich said the fire was contained to the upstairs apartments and that the lower units sustained only water and possibly smoke damage. He could not estimate the extent of damage or say if the apartments were salvageable.

The tenants of the first-story apartment facing Diamond Way and second-story apartment facing East Railroad Avenue were not on the scene. Ricupero and other officials could not identify the building's owner.

The American Red Cross said it's assisting three adults in two families with food, clothing and shelter.

Verona police shut down East Railroad Avenue and Diamond Way from Center to South Avenues for almost three hours, according to Verona police Chief Ron McLemore.

“It seemed like it was pretty serious,” he said. “It's a good thing no one was hurt.”

Braden Ashe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4673 or bashe@tribweb.com.

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.