Almost 80 displaced from West Oakland apartment building fire |

Almost 80 displaced from West Oakland apartment building fire

Chuck Biedka
Pittsburgh Public Safety
A five-alarm apartment building fire on Aug. 17 along De Ruad Street in West Oakland.

People displaced by Saturday’s major apartment fire in West Oakland will continue to get temporary shelter at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center at least through Monday morning, according to the Red Cross.

The fire at their apartment building at Deraud Street started just after 2 p.m and grew into a five-alarm fire, a Allegheny County 911 dispatcher said. The blaze was under control at about 5:35 p.m.

Even as Pittsburgh firefighters were fighting the blaze, the evacuated people received initial assistance from the Red Cross, said Lisa Landis, of the American Red Cross Greater Pennsylvania Region.

The agency’s staff used a Port Authority bus as a makeshift office to interview the 74 occupants and determine if they could stay with relatives or friends and what level of help they will need, Landis said.

“While some of our staff were interviewing the people, others were moving cots, blankets and snacks to the convention center, where the people spent the night,” she said.

About 20 of the 74 tenant spent Saturday night and Sunday morning in the convention center.

By 8 p.m. Sunday, 20 adults and eight children were being sheltered there.

“We anticipate that number going up,” Landis said Sunday afternoon.

Some of the apartment residents may have spent Saturday night elsewhere but may contact the Red Cross for help later, she said.

The Red Cross will likely move the people in shelter to another location since many will need a place to stay for several more days. A decision about where will be made on Monday.

Anyone impacted by this incident and in need of assistance should contact the Red Cross at 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767), Landis added.

In the wake of the blaze, traffic remained blocked on Fifth Avenue between Birmingham Bridge and Jumonville Street, a 911 supervisor said Sunday. Foot traffic was being allowed.

The street was to remain closed at least into Sunday night.

Also, early Sunday afternoon the fire rekindled, a Pittsburgh Public Safety spokeswoman said. Firefighters were able to put it out in a little over half an hour at 1:30 p.m.

“They will be monitoring the building closely,” she said.

The fire sent two firefighters to the hospitals Saturday for treatment.

One firefighter suffered smoke inhalation. Another received unknown injuries. They were treated and released by Sunday, the Public Safety spokeswoman said.

An inspection will be done to check the integrity of the building.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation by Pittsburgh fire officials and police.

Chuck Biedka is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Chuck at 724-226-4711, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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