Pa. firefighter falls through floor during vacant house blaze
Charleroi Fire Chief Delmar Hepple said the firefighter was "banged up but not burned"
Brian C. Rittmeyer
The Valley News-Dispatch, Tarentum, Pa.
MONESSEN, Pa. — A Charleroi firefighter was flown to a Pittsburgh hospital Saturday after falling through the floor of a burning house in Monessen, officials said.
The fire at 418 Parkway Ave. was reported about 2:45 p.m., said municipal Fire Chief Delmar Hepple.
Although the house is vacant, Hepple said firefighters were told a man squatting there as recently as Friday night may have been in a second-floor bedroom.
Because of that concern, Hepple said firefighters made an aggressive attack, including sending a four-person rescue crew into the house and up to the second floor.
Hepple said the firefighter who fell through the second floor was banged up but not burned.
He was alert when taken from the scene to UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh. No other information on his condition was available.
Two other firefighters were taken to hospitals with heat-related issues.
Nobody was found in the house. The location of the man thought to have been in the house was unknown, Hepple said.
Hepple said about 100 firefighters from seven or eight departments responded to the fire on the dead end, single-lane road.
It took them about 40 minutes to get the fire under control.
A state police fire marshal is investigating the cause. He had no information to provide at the scene.
A firefighter said the house had no electrical service.
A neighbor, James Lutz, said he was at the Flight 93 Memorial site when his sister called him about the fire near his home of about 15 years.
Lutz said the house had been empty for two or three years, but it's a haven for drug activity.
While he said he has called police about the house many times, there had never been a fire there.
"It's just ridiculous — all the drug activity. People going in and out of this house late at night," Lutz said. "It was every night; it was different people every night. I don't know what they were doing in there besides popping pills."
Lutz said he hopes the injured firefighter is all right.
"Sooner or later, it was going to happen," he said of the fire. "It's just a shame."
Hepple said that what's left of the house will have to be torn down.
(c)2021 The Valley News-Dispatch (Tarentum, Pa.)