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1 dead in Richland house fire

One person died early Saturday, March 22, 2014, in a residential fire in Richland, the Allegheny County medical examiner’s office said.Two people ere injured. County emergency dispatchers said the fire was reported about 3 a.m. at 1037 Woodhill Drive, where about a half-dozen fire companies responded to the one-alarm blaze.

Saturday, March 22, 2014, 8:09 a.m.

One person died and two escaped with injuries from a severe house fire on Saturday in Richland, Allegheny County authorities said.

About a half-dozen fire companies found heavy smoke and flames shooting from the house at 1037 Woodhill Drive when they responded at 3:30 a.m., county Fire Marshal Alvin Henderson Jr. said at the scene. He said responders hospitalized two people, transporting one by ambulance and the other by helicopter.

The third person was found dead on the home's second floor, Henderson said.

County officials did not immediately confirm their names, although Henderson said the people were “advanced in age” and appeared to be residents of the house.

The conditions of the survivors were unavailable.

“The fire was significantly advanced upon initial arrival by firefighters,” the fire marshal said.

The fire was under control in about two hours, he said.

County and township authorities were investigating the cause. They focused on the first floor, where Henderson said the fire likely began.

He would not conjecture about how the blaze might have started. He said investigators would review whether the home had working smoke detectors.

Neighbors described the occupants as three friendly women — a longtime elderly resident and her daughters — who were not often seen outside in recent years. The white-brick house was badly charred and showed signs of a partial roof collapse from the flames.

County property records identify the owner as Evelyn Provost, who could not be reached.

“I woke up to the sound of a woman screaming in the street. I thought it was perhaps a dream. Clearly not,” said Jim Franks, 52, who lives a few houses away and dialed 911.

“She was crying, saying her mother and sister were in there,” he said.

Franks said he heard what sounded like small explosions as the fire raged. Henderson said the noise might have come from oxygen tanks venting or windows shattering in the house.

Adam Smeltz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5676 or




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