Water Flushing, Testing Continues in 10th Ward

July 28, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

A “do not use” order has been lifted in 10th Ward, but some homes and businesses — in the area shown in red — remain under a “do not drink” order. (Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County map)

An order preventing residents of the 10th Ward from using their tap water for anything except flushing toilets has now been lifted, a water authority spokesman said.

However, about 20 homes and businesses along Romine Avenue, Rebecca Street and West Fifth Avenue have been told they should not drink or cook with the water, said Matthew Junker, spokesman for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

A “do not use” order for residents of lower 10th Ward was issued July 17 after emergency personnel reported that firefighting chemicals may have been sucked into an open fire hydrant as crews battled a multiple-alarm blaze at McKeesport Auto Body on Rebecca Street.

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Teen Dead in Soles Street Shooting

July 24, 2021 |

By Submitted Report | Posted in: Crime and Police News, McKeesport and Region News

An 18-year-old died early Saturday morning following a shooting at a home on Soles Street.

Dontae McKenith was pronounced dead at the scene, the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office said. Allegheny County homicide detectives said Phillip Payne, 16, surrendered to McKeesport police at 8 a.m. and will be charged in connection with the death.

County police Lt. Venerando Costa said detectives believe that McKenith and Payne were passing a handgun back and forth when Payne pointed it at McKenith and pulled the trigger, striking him at least once. Payne fled the scene before police and paramedics arrived, Costa said.

The investigation is ongoing and police did not say whether there was a motive for the shooting or it was accidental. Payne in awaiting arraignment on charges of criminal homicide and firearms offenses, Costa said.

Payne turned himself at the McKeesport police station without incident, police said.


Water Advisory Lifted for Most 10th Ward Homes

July 23, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Residents in the affected area (see red area on map) have been advised to continue not to use the tap water for any purpose other than flushing toilets. Residents in the purple area have been told they can resume water use as normal. (Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County map)

A “do not drink” water advisory remains in effect for some residents of the city’s 10th Ward after traces of firefighting foam were found in water samples there. About 30 homes and businesses are affected.

However, the advisory has been lifted for most of the neighborhood, said Matt Junker, spokesman for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County.

Meanwhile, an environmental group that has collaborated with McKeesport residents to test soil for lead contamination on Friday questioned why fire departments continue to use foams containing so-called PFAS — chemicals linked to low birth weight, nervous system and thyroid disorders and some types of cancers.

On Friday afternoon, Junker said further water line flushing and testing will be needed for a small section of 10th Ward near the scene of a large fire July 16.

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COVID Cases Up, Health Department Warns

July 21, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Areas of darker colors show a higher number of positive COVID-19 tests over the past 90 days. Over the past three months, McKeesport has had the fifth-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County. (Data courtesy Allegheny County Health Department)

As COVID-19 cases begin to rise again in Allegheny County, the health department has warned residents that although we may be done with the pandemic, the pandemic is not done with us.

Seventy new cases of COVID-19 were reported Monday and 55 on Tuesday, said Dr. Debra Bogen, director of the Allegheny County Health Department.

Health department data also indicates that over the past 90 days, McKeesport has had the fifth-highest number of COVID-19 cases in Allegheny County. West Mifflin is No. 7.

“Although these numbers remain significantly lower than during the spring surge, it is a notable increase from the 10 to 15 daily cases in June and early July, and a stark reminder that this virus is not done with us,” Bogen said Wednesday.

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City Pressing Water Authority on Testing

July 19, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: Announcements, McKeesport and Region News

City officials said they are pressing the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County to quickly resolve the issues that have kept Lower 10th Ward residents from using their drinking water.

“I have been in constant contact with MAWC since Friday, and I will continue to see this process through,” McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said Monday. “We are doing everything within our power to expedite MAWC’s water-testing process to determine if any contamination took place during the Friday evening fire at McKeesport Auto Body.”

MAWC warned on Saturday morning that chemicals from firefighting foam “may have” entered the drinking water system in the area between the CSX Railroad tracks and the Monongahela River. Some homes on Romine Avenue, Rebecca Street, Arlington Street and West Sixth Avenue also are affected.

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Deputy Chief: ’Helpless’ Feeling as Fire Erupted

July 19, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News


• Lower 10th Ward residents should continue not to use tap water for anything but flushing toilets

• Drinking water tankers remain in place on Atlantic Avenue, and bottled water is available at the Public Safety Building

• Residents may use the showers at McKeesport Area High School from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Enter at South Hall, near the gymnasium

(Tube City Almanac photo)

Gene Esken Jr. said “it was a very, very helpless feeling” as McKeesport firefighters waited Friday evening for the power company to shut off live wires sparking and hissing on the roof of a 10th Ward auto repair shop.

Esken, a deputy chief of the McKeesport Fire Department, was in charge of the response to what was originally reported to 9-1-1 as a “wires down” call at McKeesport Auto Body on Rebecca Street.

Those wires sparked a multiple-alarm fire that was battled for hours by crews from across Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, including Pittsburgh International Airport.

The effects are still being felt — for the family that owns the destroyed business and hundreds of residents of Lower 10th Ward who may be without drinking water for a week.

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Cash’s Visit Caps K-8 Summer Camp

July 18, 2021 |

By Siana Emery | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

McKeesport Area High School Stadium was a frenzy of activity on Thursday as family, friends and community members came out to celebrate their campers at the closing ceremonies of the Let’s S.H.I.N.E. Discovery Camp, sponsored by the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation.

The partnership with the Dick’s Sporting Goods Foundation allowed for the district to run a full-day summer camp for the first time. The summer camp ran from June 7 to July 15 and was free of cost to McKeesport Area School District students in kindergarten through eighth grade.

The culminating event of the afternoon was the distribution of new backpacks, stocked with fresh school supplies for the upcoming school year, to every camper present, and a special message from Swin Cash, a McKeesport native who is a former WNBA player.

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Water Still Off-Limits for 10th Ward Residents

July 17, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Related Story: Power Lines Hampered Effort to Fight Fire

Hoses snaked down Fifth Avenue near the McKees Point Marina on Saturday as crews from Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County flushed water lines on the opposite side of the Youghiogheny River in Lower 10th Ward. (Tube City Almanac photo)

Residents of McKeesport’s Lower 10th Ward should use their tap water for flushing toilets — and nothing else — until further notice.

Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, which provides water to McKeesport, Port Vue, White Oak and part of North Versailles Twp., warned residents that firefighting chemicals used to put out a fire on Rebecca Street on Friday night may have been accidentally sucked into the water supply through a hydrant.

The water should not be used for cooking, brushing teeth, washing dishes, bathing or showering, or even washing clothes, said Matt Junker, authority spokesman.

Efforts to flush the water lines were paused Saturday night while crews replaced an older piece of water line that was restricting water flow, he said.

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Water Warning for Lower 10th Ward Residents

July 17, 2021 |

By Jason Togyer | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Residents of the city’s lower 10th Ward were told Saturday morning not to use their drinking water while water authority crews work to flush the system.

The mandatory order affects homes and businesses between West Fifth Avenue and the Monongahela River.

Matthew Junker, a spokesman for the Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County, said McKeesport officials are concerned that firefighting chemicals might have been accidentally sucked into a fire hydrant on Friday night as crews worked to extinguish a massive blaze on Rebecca Street.

Junker said water authority crews began purging the system on Saturday morning as a precaution.

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Intense Fire Destroys 10th Ward Auto Shop

July 16, 2021 |

By Staff Reports | Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and is subject to change.

A massive fire destroyed a car repair shop in the city’s 10th Ward on Friday evening, sending a pillar of black smoke into the air that could be seen for miles.

Despite the efforts of firefighters from departments throughout Allegheny and Westmoreland counties, within a few hours, little remained of McKeesport Auto Body Inc. besides the outer walls. Crews were still on the scene early Saturday morning.

The fire was reported at around 5:30 p.m. and quickly went to multiple alarms. It broke out shortly after a line of thunderstorms, bringing high winds, moved through the area.

According to emergency personnel, there were reports that power lines fell onto the building’s roof, igniting the blaze. A witness told KDKA-TV they heard a loud explosion and saw burning power lines on top of the building.

The Allegheny County fire marshal’s office was on the scene Friday night investigating the cause.

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