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Woman injured in Hempfield Towers fire remains hospitalized

| Wednesday, April 25, 2012, 4:10 p.m.

A woman who was rescued Wednesday from her burning apartment in a Hempfield high-rise by a fireman who carried her down nine floors remains hospitalized.

Jillette Glassener, 70, was hospitalized after the fire at Hempfield Towers, according to Trooper Stephen Limani, public information officer for the Greensburg state police barracks.

No report on Glassener's condition could be obtained from Pittsburgh hospitals, but Limani said yesterday that she was stable but critical.

The fire at the 10-story structure at 2500 S. Grande Ave. has been ruled accidental, Limani said.

South Greensburg firefighter Tom Lakin Jr. picked up Glassener, who reportedly suffered burns, and carried her down nine stories to a waiting ambulance.

Most of the tenants of the 202 apartments had returned to their homes by yesterday morning. Apartment 914, where the fire started, remained vacant, as did the unit below it, which sustained water damage. The tenant of that apartment was expected to return later yesterday.

"All the tenants were allowed to go back to their floors and their apartments," said Michael Washowich, executive director of the Westmoreland County Housing Authority. "The fire marshal released everybody (Wednesday) evening to go back to their apartments."

About a dozen residents were evacuated from the ninth floor, where the fire was concentrated. Washowich said that floor has about 20 units.

He said Frank Pickford, a Hempfield Towers employee who suffered smoke inhalation, was fine yesterday.

"Our fire alarm system worked flawlessly," Washowich said. "The fire company did a tremendous job with their response units. It helps that the building is a concrete fortress. In this business, you have an occasional fire. It's always very sad to have a resident injured, as we did in this case."

Rich Kepple, Midway-St.Clair fire chief, said the situation could have been much worse.

"It could have spread to different apartments," he said. "Thank goodness we were able to keep it to one apartment with minimal damage."

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