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Fire destroys Mt. Pleasant Township apartment building

| Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Ted Baldwin recently hung a decorative Thanksgiving turkey on the front door of the Mt. Pleasant Township apartment building he called home.

“I was just getting ready to put up Christmas lights, too,” said Baldwin, 59.

That plan went up in smoke early Wednesday when a fire destroyed the two-story brick structure at 22 Rumbaugh Ave.

No one was injured in the blaze, which broke out just after midnight, said Jerry Lucia, Mt. Pleasant fire chief.

Despite firefighters' efforts for more than five hours to extinguish the blaze, the building was a total loss, Lucia said.

“You're probably looking at $140,000 on that building there,” he said. “When it gets around this time of year, with the holidays, it's sad when something like this happens. These people lost everything.”

The fire originated near a light fixture in a first-floor bedroom of the three-unit apartment building, Lucia said.

“I was the first one on scene, and I walked in the living quarters downstairs and right into the bedroom, and I saw the fire was actually climbing up into the ceiling of the bedroom,” he said. “We heard a couple of pops. I hit it with a fire extinguisher. It slowed down in that room, but it had already traveled to the second floor.”

The fire quickly grew because of the building's metal roof, Lucia said.

“They're good roofs, but if there's a fire, it maintains the heat in the building,” he said. “It's hard to vent from one of the metal roofs. We took that roof apart practically piece by piece to fight it. We were putting a lot of water on it, but it was a tough one.”

Baldwin and his girlfriend, Bobbi Jo Newill, were asleep when neighbors pounded on their door.

“They told us there was smoke, and we got out,” Baldwin said.

Baldwin and Newill carried out one of their two cats. As crews battled the blaze, Baldwin said, they heard crying inside his apartment and were able to rescue the other cat.

“The cats are at an animal shelter in Greensburg now,” he said.

He and Newill, who said they don't have renter's insurance, stayed at a motel overnight.

“I'm not sure what we're going to do, though. We're going to need all the help we can get,” Baldwin said.

Also displaced were tenants Lori Baker and Verda Snyder, building owner Charles Nitterright said.

Nitterright said he was grateful that no one was injured, but he was sad that the tenants are homeless.

“Thank God nobody was hurt. That's all that matters. We can rebuild, but meantime I'm trying to help these people as best as I can,” Nitterright said.

He asked the Greater Mt. Pleasant Area Landlords Association for help with shelter for the displaced tenants.

A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or apanian@tribweb.com.

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