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Uninsured Rankin home destroyed by fire: Cause unknown

Authorities in Allegheny County are investigating a fire that destroyed a home in Rankin this morning. Two individuals who were in the home at the time of the blaze escaped unharmed, but officials are at a loss at this point as to what might have started the whole thing to go up in smoke and flames.

There are a lot of questions swirling around the matter. For one thing, officials discovered on arriving at the scene of the two-alarm blaze that there was a break in the water main and that the nearest fire hydrant was inoperable. Also, residents of the home reported that workers from Duquesne Light had been at the scene the day before, working on a nearby pole. Fire investigators say they'll look to see if that contributed to the cause of the fire.

It is gratifying to know that no one was hurt or killed in the fire. That's something that can so easily happen. In this instance, it could have been even more likely. Officials say the main tenant of the three-story home was a 76-year-old man. He's lived there for about 10 years and shares the place with several relatives.

This morning, though, only he and a son-in-law were home. He reports that he became aware of smoke at some point and then there was an explosion from some source. Neighbors apparently heard it, too, because several rushed over to help the two men get outside safely.

Perhaps the saddest element of this story is that neither the homeowner nor the renters reportedly had insurance on the house or its contents. The home is a total loss.

If the work by the power company was somehow to blame for the fire, it may be possible for the owner and the renters to seek compensation from the firm.

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "2 escape fire that destroyed Rankin house," Molly Born, May 31, 2013

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