Food left unattended on a stove is likely the cause of a fire that damaged a building housing five apartments on Pike Street in Meadow Lands early Tuesday, displacing 13 residents.
Chartiers Township police Chief James Horvath said the occupant of a first-floor apartment admitted he fell asleep and the food he was cooking overheated and caught fire about 4:15 a.m.
Horvath said the resident knocked on doors to wake other occupants of the building. When Sgt. Charles Harton arrived, he went into the building to make sure everyone was out. The building is owned by Dr. Michael Crabtree of Washington.
Fire Chief Vince Altieri said the fire spread to bathrooms on the second and third floors in the rear of the building.
“We had the fire knocked down quickly, then it spread,” Altieri said. “The building had been made into apartments. I believe at one time, it had been a grocery store.”
“Because of the way the building was broken up into apartments, we have more overhaul than usual,” he added.
Most of the fire damage was done to the apartment where the fire started, while there was smoke and water damage to the rest of the building. A state police fire marshal is investigating the exact cause.
Horvath said the firefighters did a good job in quickly extinguishing the fire.
Altieri said no injuries were reported. Three cats were found inside and taken to a veterinarian for treatment.
Horvath said members of the American Red Cross were there providing the eight adults and five children who lived in the building with food, clothing and shelter.
“A lot of the residents lost everything,” Horvath said. “One woman just lost her job and is scheduled for surgery next week. And she has three kids, so she is really going through a rough time.”
Assisting at the scene were firefighters from Houston and North Strabane and South Strabane townships. The city of Washington’s Rapid Intervention Team also responded as did a few other firefighters.