Funeral home’s future still uncertain six months after fire

Funeral home’s future still uncertain six months after fire

Six months after a major fire, the fate of the boarded up Burton L. Hirsch Funeral Home remains unknown, as does the cause of the fire itself.
“We recently received the permit to allow us to clear the location site and we are in the process of clearing the site now,” wrote Wayne Tago, market director of the funeral home’s parent company, Service Corporation International, in an e-mail to The Chronicle. “We have not determined the future plans for the location site or for Burton L. Hirsch Funeral Home at this time. We appreciate the patience of the residents of Pittsburgh while we continue our evaluation.”
The Pittsburgh Fire Department has not yet determined what caused the blaze.
“The cause is still undetermined because we ran into a few different things when we were investigating,” said Jim Bayster, the fire investigator assigned to the case. “It’s probably going to take awhile because the information we need will take a while to get to us.”
Detective John Gilkey, the Pittsburgh Police Department arson investigator working on the case, was on vacation and could not be reached for comment.
No public complaints have yet been filed with the Allegheny County Health Department, although last month The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported an infestation of rats on the property.
“We would investigate and follow up as required if there were complaints,” said Dave Zazac, public information assistant for the Health Department. “We would do whatever we could do to help improve any community conditions that were lacking.”
The funeral home caught fire on Saturday, Jan. 10. The fire destroyed all but a one-story street front addition to the property. The fire department at the time estimated the blaze caused $250,000 in damage.
The building was empty at the time of the fire.

(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

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