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Latrobe apartment structure burns; 4 tenants lose all possessions

Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review - Bystanders watch as firefighters battle a blaze at an apartment building on April 4, 2013, on Main Street in Latrobe.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Eric Schmadel  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Bystanders watch as firefighters battle a blaze at an apartment building on April 4, 2013, on Main Street in Latrobe.
Eric Schmadel | Tribune-Review - Bystanders watch as firefighters battle a blaze at an apartment building on April 4, 2013 on Main Street in Latrobe.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Eric Schmadel  |  Tribune-Review</em></div>Bystanders watch as firefighters battle a blaze at an apartment building on April 4, 2013 on Main Street in Latrobe.
Friday, April 5, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
 

Residents of a four-unit apartment building in Latrobe escaped a fire Thursday night that gutted the two-story wood-frame structure at the corner of Main Street and Truman Avenue.

Latrobe firefighters, joined by units from Bradenville and Lloydsville, fought the blaze for more than two hours. Smoke poured out of the eaves and flames shot from the side walls of the building, melting the siding.

Latrobe Chief John Brasile was busy fighting the smoky fire, which was reported at 7:20 p.m., and was not available for comment about the cause or origin of the blaze.

The occupants of three of the four units said they left their residences when they smelled the smoke or heard people knocking on their door. They all said they lost all of their possessions in the fire and did not have insurance.

One of the tenants, Joseph Smolleck of 843 Truman Ave., said he kicked in the door of a rear unit to alert resident Beth Pugner, but she was not home. When the door opened, the smoke poured out and hit him in the face, Smolleck said.

Pugner said she and her friend, Ed Adams, had just left the unit at 841 Truman Ave. about 7 p.m. when she was alerted to the fire by a phone call.

“All my stuff is lost,” Pugner said as she watched firefighters battle the blaze. She said she was in the process of finding another apartment in Latrobe and her young daughters were staying with their grandmother.

Adams, a Derry Township resident who previously lived in the building, said he also lost furniture and other possessions he had left at a second-floor apartment.

A second floor resident, who declined to be identified, said that he was alerted to the fire when someone knocked on his door. The man said he left his apartment so fast that he left his cellphones, computer and tools behind.

Meghan Shaffer, 23, of 528 Main St., said she was in her first-floor apartment watching television with her friend, Anthony Capo, 26, of Latrobe, when she smelled smoke.

“It came through the walls,” Shaffer said.

Westmoreland County tax records indicate the property is owned by Jeffrey J. Regula, a Latrobe police officer. Regula could not be reached for comment Thursday night.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-5252 or jnapsha@tribweb.com.

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