Above is video by a neighbor (meanscreen) at what turned into a five-alarm fire in the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh yesterday morning. At the beginning of the clip is the explosion described by residents of the building. A newspaper article calls it a backdraft but other news sites say the explosion is still under investigation. Below is another view of the blast.
When smoke began pouring out of a utility closet Friday morning in the Oakland apartment building where Charlie Koch lived, he began pounding on his neighbors’ doors.
He grabbed a flashlight, headed toward the stairs and tried to help guide people out of the building. They made it out moments before a backdraft caused an explosion that sent bricks flying off of the building and onto the roof of another complex nearby.
It was “very lucky,” Pittsburgh arson Detective Michael Burns said, that no one was injured when the five-alarm blaze broke out in the basement ceiling of 519 Zulema St., where there appeared to be an electrical problem. Detective Burns said he doubts charges will be filed in connection with the fire.
Detective Mike Burns, who works on the city’s arson squad, said there was an “electrical malfunction” where the fire started between the basement and the first floor. The flames spread through the wood frame structure and two shafts that extended through the height of the building.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. “I have received reports that they heard a boom or an explosion, but I can’t confirm that,” Jones said.
None of the tenants in the six-unit, 15-bedroom building was injured, Pittsburgh fire Chief Darryl E. Jones said. One firefighter cut his hand but the injury was minor, Jones said.
The roof collapsed into the building’s third floor and caused major damage, Jones said.
Firefighters cleared apartments on the first and second floors, then “took a defensive position,” Jones said, explaining that they could no longer save the building and instead focused on preventing the fire from spreading to neighboring homes.