Unattended kitchen causes Penn Hills apartment fire

The Penn Hills Fire Marshal said a young man started cooking, fell asleep and then awoke to flames in his apartment early Saturday morning. Crews fought the fire at Rodi Arm apartments on Rodi Road for hours. Footage from the scene showed the fire tore through the roof of the building. Penn Hills Fire Department No. 7 Chief Bill Jeffcoat said there is an air duct and hose that connects to each apartment and the roof of the building. The fire reached the air vent of the apartment where the fire started, then quickly spread throughout the building. Jeffcoat said the department had previously reported several issues involving that building, in which fire alarms were not signaling the emergency. This same problem occurred in this fire. Jeffcoat said his department never received a fire alarm notification from the building. He said it was a resident who saw the flames and called 911. Because of this issue, Jeffcoat said the fire may have grown significantly before the person, who was in the apartment where the fire had initially broken out, does not wake up to warn the others. Jeffcoat said every previous issue involving this building was documented and the fire marshal was notified each time. He said a firefighter was taken to hospital for exhaustion but was fine. Firefighters had to cut power to the area because the ladder trucks were close to power lines, which meant people living nearby had no heat.” About two hours later, we started receiving calls to the 911 center saying people were cold inside their homes,” Penn Hills Fire Marshal Chuck Miller said. “So Penn Hills Emergency Management had to open an emergency heated shelter at the Penn Hills Senior Center for those who couldn’t stay warm. So we had a very complicated situation here.” The Red Cross tweeted that it was helping about 60 people who lived there. The building has 30 units in total.

The Penn Hills Fire Marshal said a young man started cooking, fell asleep and then awoke to flames in his apartment early Saturday morning.

Crews fought the fire at Rodi Arm apartments on Rodi Road for hours. Footage from the scene showed the fire tore through the roof of the building.

Courtesy of Penn Hills Fire Marshal

Courtesy of Penn Hills Fire Marshal

Penn Hills Fire Department No. 7 Chief Bill Jeffcoat said there is an air duct and hose that connects to each apartment and the roof of the building. The fire reached the air vent of the apartment where the fire started, then quickly spread throughout the building.

Jeffcoat said the department had previously reported several issues involving that building, in which fire alarms were not signaling the emergency.

This same problem occurred in this fire. Jeffcoat said his department never received a fire alarm notification from the building. He said it was a resident who saw the flames and called 911.

Because of this issue, Jeffcoat said the fire was able to grow significantly before the person, who was in the apartment where the fire originally started, woke up to warn others.

Jeffcoat said all previous issues involving this building were documented and the fire marshal was notified each time.

He said a firefighter had been taken to hospital for exhaustion but was doing well.

Temperatures hovered around 0 degrees early this morning, causing some emergencies to fail. Firefighters had to cut power to the area because ladder trucks were near power lines, which meant people living nearby had no heat.

“About two hours after that, we started getting calls to the 911 center saying people were cold inside their homes,” said Penn Hills Fire Marshal Chuck Miller. “So Penn Hills Emergency Management had to open an emergency heated shelter at Penn Hills Senior Center for those who couldn’t stay warm. So we had a very complicated situation here.”

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The Red Cross tweeted that it was helping around 60 people living there. The building has 30 units in total.

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