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2-alarm fire in Reading displaces 4 families

By 69 News, follow: @69news, news@wfmz.com
Published On: Apr 03 2013 03:44:58 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 04 2013 05:24:31 AM CDT

2-alarm fire in Reading displaces 4 families

READING, Pa. -

A two-alarm fire drove four families from their homes in Reading. Firefighters said the biggest obstacle out there Wednesday afternoon was the wind.

Thick black smoke poured out from the back of homes in the 300 block of North 13th Street.

"It was just a lot of black smoke and you could see the flames on the back porch," said Cathlina Tolentino.

Tolentino was home at the time with her five kids.

"3, 7, 10, 18 and 20," said Tolentino.

She said the youngest was sleeping.

"I had my son grab her because I wasn't fast enough, so they got my kids out safe," said Tolentino.

She watched firefighters work from the street. She said the fire started three houses down.

Firefighters said the red house -- #343 --had a fire in the kitchen.

"The dwellings are so close together it was a raw fire when we arrived on scene and it was already spreading to the south exposures," said 1st Deputy Fire Chief Gary Mogel.

A second alarm brought in fire departments from Mount Penn, Spring Township and Exeter Township.

"You couldn't even get through the alleyways to get a good look at the back. You needed a hose line to do that," said Mogel.

He said the wind spread the fire in the back and up to the common area above the ceiling and under the roofs of several homes.

A home two doors down in the opposite direction of the wind escaped serious damage.

"I feel good because it's my house but for other people it's not good," said Pamela Almonte.

"Just a little shaken up but it's okay," said Tolentino.

Tolentino said she doesn't have renters insurance, but that's not her first concern

"Glad my kids are okay," said Tolentino.

At least five homes had damage. Firefighters had the blaze under control in about a half hour.