ShareThis Page
Woman, 79, dies in senior high-rise fire |

Woman, 79, dies in senior high-rise fire

| Saturday, March 14, 2009 12:00 p.m

A North Side woman died of injuries received in an overnight fire at a high-rise apartment building for senior citizens.

Julia Matthias, 79, who suffered severe burns in the fire at the West Park Court Apartments, died at 3 p.m. Friday at UPMC Mercy, Uptown, a spokesman for the Allegheny County Medical Examiner’s Office said.

Pittsburgh firefighters evacuated about 50 seniors from the apartments on North Avenue near Brighton Road shortly before midnight because of a fire in Matthias’ eighth-floor apartment, authorities said.

City arson investigators ruled the fire accidental, city police Lt. Daniel M. Herrmann said.

Firefighters evacuated the top three floors of the complex, Assistant Fire Chief Francis Deleonibus said. The evacuated seniors watched talk shows in a community room on the ground floor while waiting to return to their rooms. Paramedics stayed with them to monitor their health, Deleonibus said.

“We contained the fire without any problem,” Deleonibus said. “While evacuating the residents, since they are elderly, we had to pay special attention to them.”

Evacuated residents returned to their apartments about 3:30 a.m., said Bob Legge, maintenance supervisor at West Park Court.

Firefighters contained the fire to one apartment, authorities said. Legge said the building’s makeup and firefighters’ quick response prevented a larger loss.

“The floors and ceilings, everything is made of concrete,” he said. “That saved us from having a lot of people get hurt — that, and the firemen getting here so quickly.”

Fire Chief Daryl Jones said investigators are trying to determine what caused the fire. He estimated the damage at $3,000 to the building and $6,000 to Matthias’ belongings. Legge said the apartment is a total loss.

West Park Court is operated by Arbors Management Inc., based in Monroeville. Company officials did not return a call seeking comment.

West Park Court has 110 apartments. It houses people 62 and older.

Categories: News
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.