PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- An intense, smoky fire destroyed three row houses, leaving eight people homeless, and sending one firefighter to the hospital Wednesday in Hazelwood.
According to emergency dispatchers, the fire erupted on Lytle Street just before 3 p.m.
The flames and smoke became so intense, crews ended up taking a defensive approach to fight the fire.
"We didn't think it was going to move that fast. It moved very fast. There wasn't enough time to get everybody out," said James Grant, who lost his home in the fire. "The smoke was already unbearable. I tried to go upstairs, but couldn't get upstairs."
The fast-moving fire quickly destroyed all three homes. Grant's roof collapsed.
But officials say all the residents managed to get out of their homes safely before it became too dangerous.
"You just seen smoke, you hear smoke alarms. You see smoke coming out, but you don't know where it's coming from, just assumed somebody was burning something in the house," Grant said.
The fire reportedly started in the middle home where an elderly woman was living. Neighbors believe she was cooking when the fire broke out. However, investigators have not released an official cause.
The woman had a hard time getting out of her home, but neighbors helped her to escape.
"She's an older lady, maybe 65-, 70-years-old," Grant said. "We thought we could save everything before it got worse. It was already worse. She just barely made it out."
The families lost everything in the blaze.
"We just moved here maybe five months ago," said fire victim, Jateshia Winesberry, who has no insurance. "We've got family, we'll get it together. We'll work it out."
The warm weather also presented challenges for firefighters on the scene.
One firefighter was taken to UPMC Mercy Hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. At last check, he was in stable condition and is expected to be okay.
The fire was finally brought under control around 5 p.m.
A second firefighter was bitten by a dog under stress from the fire.
Neighbors say they're taking donations to help the victims.
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