Fire damages building in East Ohio Street business district
A two-alarm fire ripped through a three-story brick building late Thursday in the North Side, forcing city emergency responders to close parts of East Ohio Street and Cedar Avenue for more than an hour.
No injuries were immediately reported in the blaze, which broke out about 11 p.m. in the 400 block of East Ohio. Second-floor tenant Vincent Burke, 48, said he was the only person who lived there and escaped safely.
The third and first floors have been vacant, but voices and shuffling footsteps on the third floor woke him around the time the fire erupted, Burke said. He said he went outside to investigate and saw the top of the building ablaze.
At that point, he said, it was too late to go back inside. Firefighters arrived and wouldn't let him return to the studio apartment where he has lived for about four years. They reported smoke coming from the third floor.
Unable to access the front through a boarded-up door, the firefighters went to the back and found heavy flames.
“I lost everything,” said Burke, standing outside with no coat as temperatures hovered in the 30s. “Thank God tomorrow's payday.”
Pittsburgh firefighters brought the fire under control by 11:44 p.m. but continued to fight hot spots well after midnight. Police said arson investigators were on the scene but not immediately available to talk. The second and third floors appeared to be severely damaged.
Burke said an intruder broke into the third floor earlier this week. He said that floor had no electricity or gas service connected. He suspects trespassers might have started a fire up there, he said.
An interior search crew later found the building was clear.
“It had to have been started manually. There's nothing up there that would have started that fire,” Burke said.
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.