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People displaced by fire in Sharpsburg apartment building

| Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, 4:58 p.m.
A building at 1202 Penn Street in Sharpsburg that was involved in a fire Saturday,. August 25, 2012.  Heidi Murrin  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
A building at 1202 Penn Street in Sharpsburg that was involved in a fire Saturday,. August 25, 2012. Heidi Murrin Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

A fire late Friday displaced nearly 20 people from their Sharpsburg apartment house, officials said.

No one was injured. The blaze broke out about midnight at 1202 Penn St., said Lou Costanzo, Sharpsburg Volunteer Fire Department chief.

“We are lucky. If this had been at 3 or 4 a.m., this would have been another story, Many residents were still awake,” Costanzo said.

The fire occurred in a home converted into a five-unit apartment building. It broke out in an electrical outlet in a bedroom, he said.

“It consumed the bedroom hallway and kitchen in that apartment,” he said.

One man had some trouble getting out of the building, but he did get out on his own, Costanzo said.

Ten adults and five children were being assisted with shelter by the American Red Cross Western Pennsylvania Region, said Lauren Chapman, a Red Cross spokeswoman.

One family was able to return to its apartment, and another family is staying with relatives, she said.

An electrical fire hit the building earlier this year, said Lorena Clark, 17, who lives in the only apartment in the five-unit building that was not damaged. An outlet in Clark's apartment caught fire about three months ago, she said. The landlord replaced the wiring in hers and one other apartment, Clark said.

About 10 people were in the apartment that caught fire Friday night — a mother, her two children, and seven friends who were sleeping over, Clark said.

About 11:50 p.m., Clark heard people shouting, “Fire,” so she ran outside and saw “smoke start to pour out” of her neighbor's apartment.

“The kids kept going back in” because they were not sure that everyone got out, Clark said. “One kid tried to go in and see where the fire was to see if he could put it out, but there was too much smoke.”

Rick Wills is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7944 or at rwills@tribweb.com.

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