Heavy equipment starts tearing at burned out Pittsburgh South Side building after massive fire, explosion

PITTSBURGH — Public Safety leaders expect the building in Pittsburgh’s South Side that partially collapsed Monday during a fire to come all the way down soon. Heavy equipment started tearing at the barely standing structure Tuesday afternoon.

East Carson Street will remain closed between 10th and 13th streets until Wednesday morning. Crews were on standby as part of the building between the second and third floors was bowing.

It was shortly before 3 p.m. Monday when smoke and flames could be seen coming from the roof of the four-story building.

Portions of the building, which housed the South Side Chamber of Commerce Welcome Center, apartments and a barber shop, collapsed.

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s just … seeing something you’ve created and held on for 10 years just come crumbling down,” Justin Lutheran, who owns the barber shop, said.

Public Safety officials told Channel 11 the risk of the rest of the building collapsing was “imminent,” but with buildings so close together in the area, they’re not waiting for that to happen.

An explosion was seen on the sidewalk near the building while firefighters fought flames that shot from the windows and roof. Pittsburgh Public Safety said the explosion was caused by electrical wiring underneath the sidewalk, which might have been sparked by water seeping down from the dousing efforts.

Fire officials did not report any injuries, but they were concerned about debris falling from the building and hitting someone -- and that the building could completely collapse.

The Department of Public Works was called in to help clear what already fell.

The American Red Cross was helping 5-10 families who were impacted by the fire.

A GoFundMe campaign was started to help one person who lived in the apartment section of the building. You can get more information HERE. The man for whom the fundraiser was set up wants to track down other people who lived in the building so they get some of the money. He can be contacted on Instagram at @aaron.sett.

“Our hearts really go out to the people who lost their homes,” said president of the South Side Chamber of Commerce, Mark Bucklaw. “We had a lot of really cool stuff that was donated to us or built or constructed by a board member of the past. It’s sad to see that, all that stuff is gone.”

The office was a place for for businesses to come together.

“It was a welcome center, welcoming people into the South Side, which is the biggest historical Victorian district in the country,” Bucklaw said.

Bucklaw said the fire may have destroyed their physical offices, but they’re already holding meetings on how the chamber will be back and better than ever.