2 buildings damaged, firefighter taken to hospital in fire with reported explosion in Etna

ETNA, Pa. — Sources tell Channel 11 that County Fire Marshals are collecting evidence to support that there’s something suspicious about how a fire in Etna started.

PHOTOS: Crews battle large fire at several buildings in Etna

“I rushed out front,” said Raymond King. “Kicked his door in. He was right there, and I said ‘Elmer, you have to get out of the house, dude. Come on let’s go.’”

Raymond King lives in the building where the fire started on Vilsack Street. He says first he smelled gas.

“Not even five minutes later, kaboom and explosion,” said King.

People who live nearby say the force blew off the garage door in the home next door.

“As soon as I walked down, boom the garage door blew off,” said John Thomas. “It hit the fire truck. It’s a good thing no one was standing in front of it.”

“When the garage door exploded it kind of made a pop noise, and then next thing you know the garage door went flying,” said Sid Schibler. “Glass went flying.”

Everyone who lived in the two buildings made it out safely. The fire started shortly before noon. About 20 different fire companies in the North Hills showed up to help.

“Anytime we see that volume of fire in the middle of the day that kind of peaks our concern a little bit,” said Etna Fire Chief Greg Porter.

The fire quickly grew to three alarms. Despite challenges, firefighters stopped it from spreading.

“It’s a multi-family building,” said Porter. “There’s lots of potential fire spread. The heat and the weather are an issue. We worry about all those things.”

One firefighter needed to be checked out at the hospital for heat exhaustion, but Chief Greg Porter says he’s doing OK. Firefighters also rescued a dog and a cat. Allegheny County Detectives are now helping County Fire Marshals to figure out how this fire started.

“It is concerning to me to see that volume of fire that quickly so we will be very methodical in that investigation in conjunction with Allegheny County,” said Porter.

Allegheny County Fire and Police still haven’t released any information. A public information officer for the Allegheny County Police Department said they’re in the preliminary stages of this investigation and will release more information when appropriate.

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