Policeman who fell from building in serious condition
A police officer in Washington County was being treated for major injuries Monday at UPMC Presbyterian in Oakland, the day after falling from the seventh story of a burning building while trying to evacuate residents.
Officer Ronald McIntyre suffered a broken pelvis, broken femur and potential spinal cord damage as he tried to escape heavy smoke Sunday afternoon at the historic George Washington Hotel in downtown Washington, said city police Chief John Haddad.
McIntyre, who has been on the force since February 2004, fell five stories to a mezzanine roof when he lost his grip on a fire hose that he was using to lower himself from a window during the rescue attempt.
"He was a working officer doing his job, responding to the needs of the public," Haddad said. "It's just a shame what happened."
About 110 people -- including more than 40 elderly and disabled residents of the Cherry Tree Assisted Living home -- were evacuated. Four people were treated at The Washington Hospital for minor injuries and released, a hospital spokeswoman said.
A UPMC spokeswoman said yesterday that McIntyre's family requested that no additional information about his condition be released. McIntyre was in serious condition Sunday.
State police fire marshals are investigating the cause and origin of the fire, which broke out in a heating/air conditioning unit on the lower roof of the 10-story building that houses an assisted living facility and apartments, Washington firefighter engineer Joe Manning said.
"At this point, the fire does not look suspicious, but that's not an official determination," Haddad said.
The fire, which gutted the second, third and fourth floors of the building, rekindled briefly in a drop ceiling late Sunday, and other floors sustained extensive smoke and water damage, Manning said.
"For the first hour or so, it was a very harrowing and labor-intensive undertaking," he said.
Horizon Senior Care in Canonsburg and Presbyterian SeniorCare in Washington took in evacuees from the assisted living center, and apartment residents moved temporarily to a nearby hotel, said Washington Councilman Matt Staniszewski.
"Yesterday was about protecting and saving lives, and today is the work of rebuilding lives," he said.
City officials and community residents are working to find food, shelter, medical supplies and clothing for the fire victims with the help of the Southwestern Pennsylvania Chapter of the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army, Staniszewski said.
Built in 1923, the George Washington Hotel on South Main Street hosted notable guests such as Presidents Truman, Kennedy and Nixon, industrialist Henry Ford and baseball legend Lou Gehrig. It is owned by Kyrk Pyros, who runs Pittsburgh-based KP Builders Inc.
Staniszewski said much of the building's historic architecture will be salvageable, and weddings and other special events could resume there as early as this weekend. Residents on floors that sustained less damage might be able to return home this week, he said.