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Fire Guts Duquesne Building, 6 Displaced

No injuries, but extensive damage to apartments, former barber shop

By Jason Togyer
The Tube City Almanac
May 13, 2021
Posted in: Duquesne News

(Image via Google maps)


More than a dozen fire companies from two counties spent several hours Wednesday night battling a blaze at a Duquesne building that forced six people out of their apartments.

The Allegheny County fire marshal’s office is investigating the source and cause of a fire that destroyed the second floor of the building at 414 Grant St. and threatened a neighboring church.

No injuries were reported, but Duquesne fire Chief Frank Cobb said some fire hoses and a ladder were damaged when part of a second-story porch collapsed.

There were two apartments on the second floor of the building. The first floor at one time housed Capristo’s Barber Shop but it was vacant and was being remodeled, Cobb said.

The American Red Cross is helping the victims, Cobb said, and a GoFundMe has been set up for one of the displaced families.

Cobb said a resident called 9-1-1 just before 10 p.m. Wednesday after smelling smoke and seeing flames in one of the bedrooms.

When Duquesne police arrived, flames were visible on the left side of the building and were extending up to the roof, Cobb said.

Two adults and four children escaped safely, he said.

Low water pressure hampered firefighting efforts, Cobb said, and the two fire hydrants nearest the blaze were not in service. Water tankers were brought from Lincoln Borough and North Huntingdon Twp. to assist the effort.

Firefighters were evacuated from the building several times out of fears that the structure would collapse, Cobb said. He described the layout of the second story of the building as “like a maze” and said firefighters’ safety was a concern.

Reports that the roof collapsed are not accurate, he said, but the roof did sustain fire damage.

Cobb estimated that more than 60 percent of the second floor was destroyed by fire and all of the contents sustained smoke and water damage.

Fire did not extend to the first floor, he said, but it sustained water damage. Insurance investigators and the city’s building inspector will be examining the remainder of the building to determine if it can be salvaged, Cobb said.

The last fire crews cleared the scene at approximately 4 a.m. Thursday.

The neighboring church, New Birth Ministries, formerly First Christian Church of Duquesne, sustained some water damage to the basement, Cobb said, but fire crews were able to keep the flames from damaging that structure.

“One of the deacons came down and inspected the building,” Cobb said. “He said they had about an inch of water in the basement. He said it was a miracle.”

Attempts to reach the church for comment on Thursday night were not successful.

In addition to Duquesne, volunteer firefighters responded to the scene from Dravosburg, Duquesne Annex, Glassport, Homestead, Homeville, Larimer, Liberty, Lincoln, Munhall No. 1 and No. 4, Jefferson Hills 885, Port Vue, Turtle Creek, Versailles, West Mifflin No. 3 and Wilmerding, along with The Salvation Army.

Originally published May 13, 2021.

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