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Tires fire destroys one home, damages two

| Saturday, Aug. 2, 2003

A pile of tires was the starting point of a fire on Leechburg Road that destroyed one home and caused exterior damage to two others Friday afternoon, officials said.

"We had a fire that began in a pile of tires next to the house," said Penn Hills fire Marshal Jack Mason.

Neighbors said hundreds of tires were stored next to the house in the 2200 block of Leechburg Road. Neighbors said they have complained numerous times to Penn Hills officials about the condition of the house, but nothing had changed.

No injuries were reported among the occupants of the homes, although Mason said one Penn Hills volunteer firefighter was hospitalized for heat exhaustion.

The residents of the house where the tire fire started could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The home where the fire originated was destroyed, officials said. The vinyl siding on adjacent homes was scorched off by the heat.

County assessors valued the destroyed home at $26,300, according to the county Web site. The site lists the owners as George Donald and Virginia Beldham.

Steve Bacon, 35, a resident of nearby Caldwell Street, said he was standing on his back porch about 3 p.m. when he saw a thick column of smoke coming from the house.

Bacon said he told his wife, Judy, to call 911, and then jogged to the house on Leechburg Road. He said the tire fire already was starting to consume the right-rear corner of the house.

"These tires were just ablaze," Bacon said, adding that a tree behind the house caught fire as the blaze intensified. "That tree that sits behind the house went 'whoom,' like lightning," Bacon said.

Mason said the occupants of the home had been cited on numerous occasions for the tire collection that had accumulated next to the house. He said he doesn't know the dispositions of those cases.

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