Fast-moving Blaze Damages Nine Homes in Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh firefighters battled the four-alarm fire that jumped across a street.


June 08--About 100 Pittsburgh-area firefighters responded this morning to a fast-moving fire that raged across houses along Ormsby Avenue -- destroying at least four of them -- and spread to nearby St. Joseph Street in Mount Oliver. Nine houses were damaged.

No serious injuries were reported, as firefighters remain on the scene watering down potential hotspots.

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Mike Huss said the fire was "pretty much brought under control," just after noon.

Two hours earlier, however, thick black smoke billowed into the sky above Mount Oliver south of Downtown and was visible from half a mile away.

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The fire is believed to have started at 193 Ormsby Ave., in a three-story home owned by Joe Abbinanti, 67, who lived there with his daughter Joann Melzer, her husband and two sons, and Mr. Abbinanti's son and his girlfriend.

Ms. Melzer said she was working her waitress job at Falce's Restaurant in Munhall when she received a call from her father at about 10 a.m.

"He said, 'Come home, the house is on fire!'" Ms. Melzer said.

She said she was unsure what caused the fire, but her father said that his son's girlfriend woke him up saying, "The back porch is on fire! Get out!"

Mr. Huss said the Allegheny County fire marshal's office is investigating.

Homes along the top of Ormsby near Arlington Avenue in Mount Oliver are built close together and the fire quickly spread to other houses.

Police cordoned off several blocks surrounding the area as firefighters battled to keep the flames from spreading to additional houses. Many residents watched the effort from their front porches.

Mr. Huss said one firefighter was treated for head exhaustion and the Melzer family said their two dogs perished.

Steve Twedt contributed to this report. Karen Kane: kkane@post-gazette.com or at 724-772-9180

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