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Fire decimates McCandless apartment building |

Fire decimates McCandless apartment building

Tony LaRussa

A four-alarm fire raged through an apartment complex in McCandless on Wednesday morning, damaging at least 30 units.

A passerby reported the fire shortly before 9:30 a.m. and emergency response units were on scene at the Durham Court Apartments within 5 minutes, according to the Allegheny County Fire Marshal’s Office, which is investigating the fire.

The entrance to the apartment complex is located at 9500 Babcock Boulevard.

Firefighters encountered heavy smoke and flame when they arrived and called for additional fire companies to assist.

In all, 26 fire departments responded to the incident or were placed on alert to assist if needed, the county fire marshal said.

“It is very early into the investigation, so we will not speculate as to the cause or origin at this time,” said Matthew Brown, the county’s chief fire marshal.

No injuries are reported to residents or firefighters, but 45 residents have been displaced as a result of the fire.

The fire destroyed much of the three-story building’s roof and the 30 units suffered significant damage from flames, smoke and water, said McCandless Fire Marshal Dan Stack.

Even after the bulk of the fire was extinguished, flames rekindled in several locations. Firefighters were on scene into the early afternoon dousing flareups.

Stack said the apartments are uninhabitable and residents will be offered assistance from the American Red Cross and Salvation Army.

Jane Ditmore, 59, who lives in an apartment across the driveway from the units that caught fire, said she was home sick from her job and heard a commotion outside. A short time later she heard firefighters arrive.

“I’m happy that there’s not many people at home during the day because they’re at work,” she said. “I was just bawling my eyes out when I realized that they probably lost everything.”

Stack said firefighters were trying to locate a number of pets who lived in the building.

The complex is located near the A.W. Beattie Career Center and is not far from UPMC Passavant Hospital and La Roche University.

Flames could be seen shooting from the building as smoke billowed into the air.

The McCandless Community Association and North Hills Community Outreach will be accepting donations to the NHCO disaster relief fund for fire victims from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday at McCandless Town Hall.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368, or via Twitter .

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