Three-Alarm Fire Rages at Pittsburgh Funeral Home


A three-alarm fire ignited at a well-known funeral home and burned for hours in Pittsburgh early Saturday morning.

The fire at the Burton L. Hirsch Funeral Home, on the border of the city's Squirrel Hill and Greenfield neighborhoods, was so intense that fire officials called for additional aid as the fire fully engulfed the building.

Slideshow: Funeral Home Fire Burns For HoursRaw Video: Fire Burns For Hours At Funeral Home

A WTAE Channel 4 Action News crew at the scene reported that the fire was too dangerous for firefighters to extinguish. At one point, the fire was under control before it rekindled. For safety reasons, fire crews decided to let the fire burn to the ground, instead of putting fire crews in danger.

"The street is icy, it's a hilly terrain. We put firefighters actively in a safe position to apply the water," Assistant Pittsburgh Fire Chief Francis Deleonibus said.

The fire burned since about 7 a.m. through the afternoon. Duquesne Light spokesman Joey Vallerian said one of the utility's crews, which was replacing a pole on Forward Avenue, spotted the fire and called 911.

There were no reports of injuries, and there were no decedents inside the funeral home at the time of the fire.

A fire burns for hours at the Burton L. Hirsch Funeral Home in Pittsburgh. WTAE Channel 4 Action News reporter Jennifer Miele reported seeing smoke and flames from the roof at about 11:30 a.m. Witnesses said the fire and smoke was visible from the Parkway East.

"We're awful close to the building next door and I'm just ... glad there's nobody over there. It's just crazy, we're so close," said Sandy Campinoe from Colonial Cleaners.

Fire officials asked Jen Dalke, a resident of a nearby building, to move her car out of concern that the funeral home could collapse.

"It's a little nerve wracking, but it seems to be under control. I don't think it's going to reach the building ... that I'm in," said Jen Dalke, a neighbor.

Firefighters were able to control the fire and keep it from spreading to other buildings, but some residents in a nearby apartment building said there was a little damage there.

"It smells like smoke in there. There's some water in the basement, otherwise there is nothing to extreme gong on," Dalke said.

Many Squirrel Hill residents with whom WTAE Channel 4 Action News spoke said they were relieved that firefighters we able to get to the scene when they did.

"I'm so impressed. They're worth every penny the get paid," Campinoe said.

Authorities continued to investigate a cause into the afternoon.

Refresh often and watch Channel 4 Action News at 6 for the latest updates.