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Former Residents, Businesses Reflect One Year After Massive Fire Destroyed Historic South Side Building

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's been one year to the day since a devastating fire brought down a historic building on the South Side.

"All I really remember is when the building fell. That was the craziest part," Joshua Perrone said Tuesday.

Perrone is a barber at J's Master Barbershop. The shop was on the first floor of the building, along with the South Side Chamber of Commerce. Six apartments sat above the businesses. All that's left now is a vacant building at the corner of 11th and East Carson streets.

"I miss living down here. I miss the city," Justin Bonno said about his home for 17 years.

massive south side fire building
(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Over the past year, he found a new home, but the fire took away some things that can never be replaced.

"Photos were lost, mementos, things from my childhood," Bonno said.

He came by Tuesday to lay flowers for his cat. He never learned if the cat made it or not.

"Some of the recovery was quick, but some of the recovery in my heart isn't," Bonno told KDKA.

Just down East Carson Street is the new location of the barbershop. It opened in the late spring after losing everything.

"I don't think the owner, I don't think any of the barbers thought we'd be open as quick as we were," Perrone said.

He thanked the community and clientele for giving the business a new home. He said they didn't know if they would be able to reopen after that day.

"Having a strong team is what makes it possible," Perrone told KDKA.

The South Side Chamber of Commerce still works remotely. The commerce does not have a permanent home yet but hopes to find a new location soon.

"The building is gone, but the chamber is still here, and that's the important thing," Chamber president Tim Eggert said.

While all three push ahead, there's a part of them the fire took away forever.

"It was just such a part of me living down here," Bonno said. "Living in this building, it was my home."

As for the vacant lot, KDKA asked Pittsburgh City Councilman Bruce Kraus about it. He was not sure about any future plans.

Investigators allege 25-year-old Christian Ross confessed to starting the blaze. He was arrested last May. He faces charges of arson and is due in court on March 10.


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