Two fires in Beltzhoover that broke out within hours of one another are being investigated as suspicious. KDKA's Nicole Ford has more.
- It was hot. I mean, it wasn't a joke. It was hot. It was just a big, orange blaze.
- Investigators this evening are looking into two suspicious fires that were very close to each other in Beltzhoover. Flames and smoke poured from the first fire on the 400 block of Beltzhoover Avenue, and while firefighters worked to contain that fire, another fire started just a block or two away at Freeland and [? Estella ?] Streets. The flames engulfed a home and several nearby trees. The fires destroyed four homes and left neighbors on edge.
- Nicole Ford is live in Beltzhoover with why residents are concerned. Nicole?
NICOLE FORD: Stacy, Ken, we're on Beltzhoover Avenue. You can see these three homes behind me sit very close together. This one on the end looks like it's about ready to fall in. Now, the neighbor behind these homes has lived here for 30 years. He tells me, in that time frame, he's never seen anyone live inside them, and he believes it's eyesores like this that bring a neighborhood down.
While the images of flames tell the story--
- Orange. It was just a blaze of orange.
- Harold Davis lived it.
- It was so hot that when I come out the door, they had to take me down over this hill, because I couldn't come to the garage.
- Hours after firefighters woke him at his Freeland Street home, he sits, thinking, how could this happen here?
HAROLD DAVIS: I was worried about my house burning, because when they pulled me out of the house, I just knew my house was getting ready to go up.
- His next door neighbor's home, empty. He says the couple passed away almost two decades ago, and the city had it boarded up.
- They had to pull the boards off the door to get in it.
- He believes someone set fire to the house and another three a block over Beltzhoover Avenue.
- It seemed like they started their fire, and worked their way down through the alley, and burnt this one, and got ghosts, you know?
- Pittsburgh Public Safety says, both fires are under investigation and believe them to be suspicious. Davis' concern now is, if the city doesn't clean up these abandoned properties, how many more fires could be set?
- Years ago, there was a house here. It caught on fire the same way, and it was empty for a long time.
- Now, the one thing those neighbors didn't want to tell us on camera is that, in fact, they've seen a number of squatters living inside these homes. The one problem they want the city to address is tearing down these dilapidated properties to stop any bad issues or more fires like this from happening in their neighborhood. Reporting live in Beltzhoover, tonight, Nicole Ford, KDKA News.