PITTSBURGH — Fire crews battled a blaze for hours overnight in the freezing cold of the Rodi Arms apartments.
The three-story building is completely destroyed.
Penn Hills Chief Fire Marshal Chuck Miller said crews initially responded to a kitchen fire in a second-floor apartment just after midnight. Police evacuated the building, forcing residents into freezing temperatures. After extinguishing the fire and inspecting the structure, firefighters began clearing the area.
Minutes later, flames were spotted in the roof and quickly spread through the attic.
“When the crews returned, they were met with a significant amount of fire,” Miller said. “Temperatures continued to drop all night.”
As crews returned to put out the blaze burning through the empty space, a Port Authority bus was brought in as a temporary warming shelter for the tenants. Power was cut in the neighborhood due to the fire, so another warm-up center was also set up at the Penn Hills Senior Center.
“The 911 center has begun to be inundated with phone calls from Penn Hills residents who were affected by the power outage, saying their homes are extremely cold.” Miller explained.
Miller says no residents were injured, but a firefighter was treated for dehydration. The cold also damaged some equipment.
At least 60 people are now homeless.
Channel 11 spoke to Mayor Pauline Calabrese, who was at the scene.
“We are so grateful for our firefighters, for our EMS department and for our neighboring fire departments who came out to help,” Calabrese said.
The Red Cross helped 58 people after the fire.
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