EAST LIVERPOOL - Several people were left homeless but uninjured by a fire that swept through the upper floors of a Liverpool Township apartment house on Sunday.
Firefighters from four local departments converged on 908 Anderson Blvd., at the corner of Anderson and Parkway Avenue near the former Riverview Florist property, shortly after 2 p.m. The fire is believed to have started in a corner of the third-floor attic, according to township assistant Chief Dave Ward.
Strong winds made fighting the blaze more difficult, as did water pressure from a fire hydrant that wasn't strong enough to meet the demand, firefighters said. Ladder units from East Liverpool and St. Clair working the fire from two angles drew more water from the hydrant than it could supply.
"The city aerial was using up most of the water off the hydrant, so we ran a tanker shuttle to supply the other aerial," Ward said. "That way, we could still supply the engine that was using the lines off of it."
Highlandtown Volunteer Fire Department sent a tanker truck to assist with the water deliveries.
In addition to Liverpool Township, East Liverpool and St. Clair, firefighters from Wellsville also worked the blaze, with West Point and Negley firefighters on standby. Tri-County and Lifeteam EMS units responded as well to assist. There were no injuries, but a pair of pet cats was unaccounted for while the fire raged.
Upstairs residents Phillip Roberts and Dylan Rhodes, who work the night shift at Pittsburgh International Airport, were sleeping at the time.
Roberts, who had been sleeping in the attic, said he was roused by the fire and called 911. "I woke up to flames," he said. There was only enough time to put on clothes, go down to the second floor, wake Rhodes and run out of the house, he said.
A co-worker who also lived on the second floor, William Scyoc, would have been there if his girlfriend, Elena Atyim, hadn't given birth to their first child four days ago. The young family was staying with Scyoc's mother, Dolores Silverthorn of Rogers, instead.
Silverthorn says she was helping them get settled with their newborn son. "Thank God they weren't here," she said. "The big guy upstairs works in mysterious ways."
While the flames were mostly confined to the attic level, the roof of the house collapsed, causing severe damage to the second-floor area. "The whole upstairs is pretty much destroyed," Ward said. The structure is likely a total loss.
Heavy water damage was sustained on the first floor, where Arlena Scott and Hollie Flowers live. They too were not at home when the fire broke out, having Sunday dinner with Scott's family in Cuyahoga Falls. After receiving a phone call about the fire from neighbors, they drove down with Flowers' brother, Avery Flowers, to assess the damage.
"I'm just thankful everyone's all right," Scott said. "Things can be replaced; human lives can't." Still, they were fortunate to have their puppy and urns containing the remains of Scott's parents rescued from the house by firefighters.
Jenny and Frank Bosco of Broadview Circle own the structure.
Ward says there was no obvious cause of the fire, which is now under investigation.