Owner of fire-damaged apartment house in Greensburg hopes to rebuild

Mar 20 – The owner of a fire-damaged rental property in Greensburg Friday afternoon said he was waiting for a report from an insurance specialist to determine his next move.

Standing outside his three-story home at 34 Grant Street Saturday, John Toth said the insurance company and a city inspector were on the property the previous Saturday to review the damage.

Toth said he hoped to rebuild the house.

Nobody in any of the four apartments was reported as injured in the fire, which was reported around 2:30 p.m. on Friday.

One tenant moved from an apartment on the second floor on Saturday afternoon. According to Toth, who lives in Unity, some tenants have received support from the American Red Cross and United Way.

The fire started when power lines in front of the house were knocked down by a tree that had fallen on the edge of Grant Street on a neighboring property.

Tom Bell, Greensburg fire chief, said the 18,000 volt power line supplied power to the entire metal roof and heated the roof nails that were hammered into the wooden roof beams. The roof then caught fire, said Bell.

Bell said the third floor was badly damaged and part of the roof in front of the house collapsed.

A neighbor on Walnut Street under his house saw three or four arcs on the roof from the failed power lines, Toth said.

“It was like the perfect storm,” he said.

Toth said he was working on Otterman Street in Greensburg on Friday afternoon when he was told by a neighbor that the power lines had fallen on his roof. He later heard sirens from fire trucks and received a message that the roof was on fire.

He said he tried to contact the tenants while driving to the fire.

A neighbor, Amy Blake of Grant Street, said they heard the tree tip over, but it was about 20 minutes before she saw smoke coming off the roof.

“It (smoke) was blowing all over the roof,” said Blake.

The fallen tree had torn the power line to Blake’s house. Power was restored on Saturday.

Joe Napsha is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Joe at 724-836-5252, [email protected], or on Twitter.

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