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Residents displaced by Second Avenue Commons fire to be relocated from David L. Lawrence Convention Center

Residents displaced by Second Avenue Commons fire moving again. What comes next?
Residents displaced by Second Avenue Commons fire moving again. What comes next? 02:05

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The Allegheny County Department of Human Services provided an update on those displaced by the Second Avenue Commons Fire that happened a couple of weeks ago. 

According to Allegheny County Department of Human Services Director Erin Dalton, earlier this week, residents accessed the building and retrieved their personal belongings as crews continued to work on cleaning and restoration. 

"While we hope that restoration and rehabilitation efforts will allow at least some sections of the building to reopen sooner, we anticipate a timeline of potentially several months before the entire building is fit for occupancy again," Dalton said. "We are working with all of the partners of Second Avenue Commons to remedy the situation as quickly as possible."

"We really thank the David L. Lawrence Convention Center for being so accommodating since the fire happened, but our time is up," county spokesperson Abigail Gardner said. 

Dalton said that approximately 120-130 people have been staying at the temporary shelter at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, and they are preparing to end the usage of the center as a shelter this week. However, other shelters around the area have been reaching out to offer shelter. 

"Since the fire, other shelters reached out to offer additional capacity," Dalton said. "Light of Life and Community Human Services were the two primary shelters that made offers of beds, in addition to a handful of other vacancies in the shelter system. A total of 34 other shelter beds have been made available. We have made offers to the people at the Convention Center for these shelter beds and matchmaking is happening now to fill these slots."

This leaves the need to find shelter for around 100 people. They are planning to relocate the remaining people at the convention center to the Family Links facility in Allentown. 

"I think it's realistic to say it will be several months before we can be fully reopened and have full occupancy on every level," Gardner said.

The Pittsburgh City Zoning Board Adjustment has also approved a property to become a bridge housing property and that is a former Vincentian property in Stanton Heights. 

"DHS is now working with Community Health Services to make spaces for 52 new individuals at that property available in the next few weeks," Dalton said. "It is important to note that not every displaced resident from Second Avenue Commons will qualify for one of these spaces, and some of the units may go to individuals staying at other shelters which meet the requirements of the program." 

Fire investigators have not yet determined a cause, but the fire started on the roof of Second Avenue Commons and incurred significant fire and smoke damage on the upper floors. In dousing those flames, water cascaded down through the building. 

"When you put a fire out of that size, there's a lot of water damage from putting the fire out. So, that did leak down and impact a section of the building that didn't have smoke or fire damage," Gardner said.  

When the building does open, it will open up in stages, with the lower floor opening first. That will take months. And until that time, the county will scramble to provide the needed shelter.   

Pittsburgh Mercy is still accepting donations.

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