Woman dies in Bricelyn St. fire 20 years after deadly fire on same block

One firefighter fell through the basement floor, but was not injured; 20 years ago three firefighters died after being trapped in the basement

By Andrew Goldstein
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PITTSBURGH — An East Hills woman died in a three-alarm house fire Friday, almost 20 years to the day that a fire killed three firefighters on the same street.

According to friends, Rose Marie Pressley, 73, died in the fire in the 8300 block of Bricelyn Street. It was one day before the 20th anniversary of the 1995 Valentine's Day fire at 8361 Bricelyn St. that took the lives of three firefighters. "Firefighters simply call it the Bricelyn Street fire," public safety spokeswoman Sonya Toler said.

Ms. Toler said that in Friday's fire, someone called 911 at 1:40 a.m. but provided no information. Allegheny County emergency dispatch tried to reach the caller, but the calls went unanswered. Police who arrived at the scene at 1:52 a.m. saw smoke coming from the basement, and fire crews were dispatched. The first truck arrived at 1:57 a.m., Ms. Toler said.

Ms. Pressley's family could not be reached for comment, but she described herself on her Facebook page.

"I am a proud mother" of three children and six stepchildren with "20? some grandchildren and proud great grandmother of 10. My most enjoyable time is Christmas eve each year when I am with grand/?great grand children," she wrote on Facebook.

Firefighters not only had to battle the blaze Friday morning, but the bitter cold as well.

The Allegheny County fire marshal is investigating.

The same firefighters that responded to the Bricelyn Street fire were then dispatched to a fire on Singer Place in Wilkinsburg that displaced a family of eight, according to Pittsburgh fire Chief Darryl Jones. Pittsburgh provides fire safety service to Wilkinsburg.

"I think the difficult thing is, guys were soaking wet from one fire and their gloves and stuff might have been saturated, so that made this a little bit more uncomfortable than usual," Chief Jones said in Wilkinsburg. He said one firefighter received a minor leg injury when he stepped in a hole in the floor of the Wilkinsburg home.

In East Hills, one firefighter fell through the first floor into the basement but was uninjured, Ms. Toler said. It was an eerie similarity to the Feb. 14, 1995, fire when fire Capt. Thomas Brooks, 42, and firefighters Patricia Conroy, 43, and Marc Kolenda, 27, died after falling through a staircase and becoming trapped in the basement.

That fire was ruled an arson, and suspect Greg Brown is awaiting further court action after his previous conviction was overturned.


(c)2015 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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