JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – A fatal fire Sunday at Connor Towers was the third in the city in the past five months, and the second in 11 days.
Johnstown firefighters were called to the apartment building around 7 p.m., and used water supply from a fire hydrant to extinguish the blaze.
Cambria County Coroner Jeffrey Lees said a woman, suspected to be about age 70, died in a fifth-floor apartment that was completely gutted by fire.
Lees said dental and DNA information will be used to confirm the woman’s identity. Her body was found on a couch in the apartment, he said.
Lees was unsure how quickly the fire may have spread or how long it burned.
“It only takes a breath in a situation like this,” he said, for a death by fire and smoke to occur.
Joe Carter, who lives across the street from Connor Towers at 527 Vine St. in downtown Johnstown, said his mother, 78, lives on the eighth floor.
Carter craned his neck up at the top of the 13-floor building, which is run by the Johnstown Housing Authority.
“A lot of people who live here are elderly,” he said. “How are they supposed to get down in case of a fire? This could have been a lot worse.”
He said there were no sprinklers in the building, but that could not be confirmed Sunday night.
The pair of previous fatal fires this year occurred in houses in the Moxham section of Johnstown. A fire on May 30 on Clover Street claimed the life of two children, and two more children died in a fire on Sept. 29 on Highland Avenue.
Both fatal fires were determined to be accidental, with the September fire deemed to be electrical in nature.
In addition, a fire caused significant damage to a house on Coleman Street in Moxham on Friday. A family of seven escaped uninjured. Johnstown police are investigating the cause of that fire.
Demographic information for the victim of the Connor Towers fire has not yet been released.
The fire at Connor Towers was contained to the victim’s residence. Lees said many more of the building’s occupants were evacuated, and he was not sure when they would be able to return.
The Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal is investigating the cause of the fire.
Russ O’Reilly is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Russell- OReilly.