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Nearly 40 people without homes after large fire at Canonsburg apartment complex

CANONSBURG, Pa. — Several crews battled a major fire at an apartment complex in Canonsburg that left nearly 40 people without homes.

According to emergency responders, the fire started around 1 p.m. Sunday on Summit Avenue.

“I was just siting there and I seen the smoke. And I seen one guy run out and say there was a fire. So I ran down there and me and him started knocking on the doors and I called police," said Jeff Wilmer, who lives across the street.

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Fire officials said the initial call came in as a porch fire. Some people were inside when the fire started, but they were able to get out safely.

Firefighters said it took them longer than expected to get the fire under control due to the construction of the building. They said it was built many years ago without fire breaks between each unit, making it difficult to work swiftly.

Luckily, no one was injured.

Many residents are asking what caused the fire, while some already had their theories.

“Last night I came home and I could smell this terrible smell,” said resident Renee Powers.

On the WPXI Facebook page, one person left us a comment backing up those claims saying in part, “Numerous residents called about plastic burning smell the night before to the on-site maintenance and owner. Maintenance and owner did nothing.” The comment goes on to say, “This all could have been prevented.”

Canonsburg fire chief Tim Solobay said the burning plastic was not a source of Sunday’s fire.

“About a block or so away there were folks working on a house, flipping a house. They had gutted the house and were burning a lot of the material. We feel strongly that’s what they were smelling through the course of this,” said Solobay.

Solobay also said the apartment is up to code and he believes the fire began in what was a newer unit.

“The wiring and everything seemed intact for that unit so it’s probably least suspicious.” Solobay said.

Joe Kubacki, who works as maintenance for the complex, said, “We don’t know anything that’s going on yet, they are investigating. Things happen, you know. Things happen.”