A tree-cutting service disrupted power lines Tuesday afternoon, sparking a three-alarm fire in Mount Washington, an arson investigator said.
Employees of Fred's Tree & Lawn Service were working when a tree limb struck a power line, which caused a panel box in the basement of a home across the street on Estella Avenue to catch fire, according to Pittsburgh police arson squad Sgt. Rich Begenwald.
Sgt. Begenwald said the workers called 911 and waited for authorities to respond to the scene. "We're deeming it an accidental fire. There was no criminal conduct," he said.
"It was definitely an accident," said a woman who answered the phone at Fred's Tree & Lawn Service. "Other than that, I can't say anything further."
Pittsburgh fire Chief Darryl Jones said no one was injured.
Dante Williams was in a home on Estella Avenue when he "heard banging and someone screamed 'Get out of the house.'???"
Moments later, the house, perched on a hill, gushed gray smoke as firefighters scrambled to get the fire under control.
"I've never been in a situation like that," Mr. Williams said.
Chief Jones said the call came in as a down electrical wire at 12:39 p.m., which automatically causes an engine to be dispatched.
But before the engine made it to Estella, another call came in reporting a fire had broken out.
The three-alarm fire caused "heavy damage" in both the home Mr. Williams was in and a house next door, Mr. Jones said.
By 1:19 p.m. the fire was under control.
Although the fire quickly consumed the two houses, "The firefighters did an excellent job," Sgt. Begenwald said.
Alex Zimmerman: firstname.lastname@example.org, 412-263-3909 and on Twitter: @AGZimmerman. First Published April 30, 2013 5:15 PM