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66 Lose Homes in Duquesne Apartment House Blaze

By Staff Reports
The Tube City Almanac
July 19, 2016
Posted in: McKeesport and Region News

A massive fire in a Duquesne apartment building forced 66 people from their homes on Tuesday afternoon.

Residents of the Laurel Building in the Hilltop Parkview Manor complex off of Commonwealth Avenue in Duquesne's First Ward are being assisted by the American Red Cross, a county spokeswoman said. All of the tenants are believed to be staying with friends and relatives.

Red Cross and Allegheny County disaster relief workers will be back on the scene at 10 a.m. Wednesday, along with investigators from the Allegheny County fire marshal's office. The building suffered fire, smoke and heavy water damage, said Matt Brown, chief of Allegheny County Emergency Services.

All of the apartments on the first floor burned, and the roof over most of the second-floor apartments has collapsed, he said.

Low water pressure in the area hampered efforts to fight the blaze, Brown said. Tanker trucks brought water to the fire and volunteer firefighters responded from as far away as Swissvale and Monroeville.

Brown said the fire started in a first-floor apartment, then made its way into the roof and spread throughout the building.

Although residents told local TV stations that fire hydrants in the complex were broken, Duquesne fire Chief Andrew Fedor said in a press release that the hydrants were operating but low water pressure forced crews to pump water up the hill into the complex.

The complex is at one of the highest points in Duquesne, Brown said.

The cause of the fire isn't known. A spokesperson for the fire marshal's office said that "due to the size and volume" of the fire, "this will be a large scale investigation."

Hilltop Parkview Manor is operated by Spring Valley, N.Y., based Capital Realty Group, which manages low-income apartment complexes in 16 states. County property tax records indicate the legal owner of the complex is a limited-liability company called Parkview Housing Associates.

County officials on Tuesday evening initially said that the property owners were providing housing for the displaced residents, which included 26 adults and 40 children. They later retracted that report.

A public information officer for the Red Cross said that disaster relief workers set up an emergency shelter at Steel Valley High School in Munhall, but displaced residents told the Red Cross the shelter was unnecessary.

The Red Cross provided families with vouchers for $300 to $500, as well as vouchers for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. Families also will receive assistance purchasing new furniture, the spokesman said.

Seven firefighters were treated for heat-related injuries at local hospitals and one resident suffered an asthma attack and had to receive medical attention at the scene, said Amie Downs, director of communications for Allegheny County.

Originally published July 19, 2016.

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