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Valley News Dispatch

Harrison to spend at least $65K to clean up fire-damaged homes

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018, 5:12 p.m.
A home along Ivanhoe Drive in Harrison is boarded up after fire gutted it in December 2016.
A home along Ivanhoe Drive in Harrison is boarded up after fire gutted it in December 2016.
Construction equipment rest atop a pile of rubble along Linden Street in Natrona section of Harrison Twp. Monday Sept 17, 2018. A row of houses 10, 12, 14 and 16 Linden where a total loss after a early morning blaze Saturday.
Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Construction equipment rest atop a pile of rubble along Linden Street in Natrona section of Harrison Twp. Monday Sept 17, 2018. A row of houses 10, 12, 14 and 16 Linden where a total loss after a early morning blaze Saturday.

Harrison plans to spend at least $65,000 to clean up the remains of two house fires.

Cleaning up the rubble from a Sept. 15 fire that destroyed four housing units on Linden Street could cost Harrison about $50,000.

Because of the danger posed by the building’s fire-damaged remains, township officials ordered its emergency demolition.

“It’s a public health hazard we have no choice but to deal with,” said Commissioner Chuck Dizard.

Dizard said the $50,000 estimate comes from a contractor, and is based on how much it will cost per pound to dispose of the debris at a landfill.

Homes at 12 and 16 Linden St. were occupied, while ones at 10 and 14 Linden were empty.

Dizard said the township will pay for the work upfront, then look to recoup as much of the cost as it can.

Only one of the four units — 16 Linden St., where the fire started — was insured, and the township will work with that insurer “to arrive at their share of the cost,” Dizard said. He said the remaining cost would be split among the other three owners.

Dizard said he expects commissioners to be able to award a contract in late October, with work following in early November.

In a separate clean-up project, township commissioners this week approved spending up to $15,000 to tear down what’s left of a house at 998 Ivanhoe St., which was badly damaged in a December 2016 fire.

A second-story back porch has shifted in recent weeks and is now collapsing and falling into a creek below, zoning and ordinance office Supervisor Lindsay Fraser said Wednesday.

She said the basement is packed with “junk” and other items were left elsewhere in the house.

The crumbling house doesn’t present any danger to a neighboring home, although Fraser said neighbors have put up with living beside the eyesore and its smell.

Allegheny County real estate records list the owners as Mary L. and Marlene A. Schreckengost. Mary L. Schreckengost died in 2010. Marlene Schreckengost could not be reached.

Harrison has gotten two bids for the demolition and is working to get a third, Commissioner Chuck Dizard said.

Fraser would not disclose the two bids received to date, but said they do not include the cost of asbestos removal.

An assessment found 240 square feet of asbestos in the floor tile, Fraser said. It would have to be removed before workers tear down the rest of the house, haul away debris and fill in and grade the lot.

Fraser said she’s not certain if $15,000 will be enough to cover the work. If it isn’t, commissioners would have to consider authorizing more money.

If the amount approved this week is enough, Fraser said a contract could be awarded within a month.

Brian C. Ritmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Contact Brian at 724-226-4701, brittmeyer@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.

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