When it comes to fighting fires, one of worst-case scenarios is wind, which is what fueled a fire that just devoured an Upper St. Clair family’s home on Tuesday.
Chopper 11 was overhead when the heat started to threaten other houses in the neighborhood and ignite nearby trees.
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The five-alarm fire brought firefighters from all over the South Hills. It was doused within a few hours, but for the family, all firefighters could find that wasn't destroyed was a box of charred family photos.
“It's not even happening to me directly,” said neighbor Jenny Thomas. “I can't imagine what they must be going through.”
The roof and entire sections of the house are gone, and the back of the house appears even worse.
Fire marshals are still looking into the cause, but Channel 11 is told neighbors first spotted the flames on the back porch.
"Right now, it appears it started in the rear of the house,” said police Chief Douglas Burkholder.
The couple who lives in the house was not home when it started but told police they just turned their furnace on today. Neighbors whose houses were threatened by strong winds fanning the flames said they feel lucky.
“That's what I kept saying – what if it catches the trees?” Thomas said. “We just had a dead tree cut down a few weeks ago, so I'm grateful for that.
“My heart goes out to them – I don’t know what else to say.”
One neighboring homeowner wasn't as lucky – the heat from the fire melted siding on their house.
Cox Media Group