Meadville Tribune

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March 11, 2014

Early morning fire rakes apartment building

No injuries reported in pre-dawn blaze

WEST MEAD TOWNSHIP — The cause of an early Tuesday morning fire that displaced eight families at a Meadville-area apartment complex has yet to be determined.

The fire at Northgate Apartments off Route 77 and Leslie Road, northeast of Meadville, broke out around 4:30 a.m. Eight of the 10 units in the building were occupied and everyone was able to exit safely, according to reports from the scene.

Chief Todd Courson of West Mead 2 Volunteer Fire Department suspects the blaze started in the living room area — the backside of the building — of a basement level apartment.

The building, which is made of concrete blocks, has three floors of apartments — a basement, a first floor and a second. The fire spread vertically up through both apartments above and up through roof, but it did not spread horizontally to other apartments, Courson said.

“There are firewalls on each side of the stairwell,” Courson said. “They were the saving grace and did their job to stop the fire from spreading.”

There were an estimated 15 to 20 people in the building, but no injuries were reported, according to West Mead Police Department, which declined further comment about the fire’s details.

“A joint investigation between West Mead Police and Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal has been initiated as a result of the fire,” West Mead police said in release.

Representatives of Meadville Housing Corp, owners of the complex, were on the scene by 5 a.m. “Our main concern is with the tenants,” Nancy Mangilo-Bittner, Meadville Housing Corp office manager, told the Tribune on Tuesday. “We’re working with them to find a place for them to stay.”

Mangilo-Bittner said she met with the displaced tenants most of Tuesday. Four tenants were moved from apartments to townhouses within the same complex, and officials were continuing to work with other tenants to find places for them to go, Mangilo-Bittner said on Tuesday.

Some tenants in one part of the building were permitted to enter the building to get personal belongings, but no one was allowed to stay there, according to Mangilo-Bittner.

A total of eight fire companies were called to the scene, including West Mead 2, West Mead 1, Blooming Valley, East Mead Township, Edinboro, Vernon Township and Vernon Central volunteer fire departments; and Meadville Fire Department.

No injuries to any firemen were reported. The last units were back in service at 2:13 p.m.

You can help

All donations to help the displaced tenants of the Northgate apartments fire should be directed to the Allegheny Region Chapter of the American Red Cross, which includes all of Crawford County, at P.O. Box 370, Reno, Pa. 16343.

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