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26 displaced by fire in Reading

Published On: Jun 24 2013 08:12:23 AM CDT
Updated On: Jun 24 2013 01:22:31 PM CDT

Fire displaces 26

READING, Pa. -

Clean up crews were out Sunday, trying to piece together what's left after a fast-moving fire in Reading.

The fire Saturday night forced 26 people out of their homes in Oakbrook.

"It was really bad," described neighbor Julio Leon. "It was basically just engulfing the house, like the whole house was burning."

A fire had started inside one of the homes on Pershing Boulevard.

"Flames, and all the kitchen is smoke," explained Pedro Vera.

Vera and Maggie Negron live in the unit where the flames started.

"My oven blew up," said Negron through tears.

They say the explosion happened so fast.

"He was going to cook, but the oven blew," shared Negron. "Soon as he turned it on it blew."

Vera ran inside to fight the flames. But he wasn't alone.

"I don't know what possessed me to go in, it's a burning house, but I just did," added neighbor Anthony Leon. "I tried to put the fire out with him, we were in the kitchen, couldn't get it out, and we tried putting the baking powder, everything like that and it wouldn't come out."

He said it only took seconds for the fire to burn out of control and spread from the kitchen to the living room.

"Not even five minute and everything going blown up," said Vera.

"He didn't want to leave, described Leon. "But I got him out, there was no choice."

Leon began knocking on other doors to make sure everyone was out. When firefighters got on scene the fire was growing.

"Found that the fire was extending to the roof," explained Reading Fire Department Chief David Hollinger. "Then of course we're worried about horizontal extension."

Extra crews were called in to help fight the flames.

"The fire was so bad that it spread to all the houses," added Najai Singoetary.

The fire chief says all six units were damaged. It's unclear how long the 26 people who call them home will be without a place to live.

"It looks like three of them may be out for a significant amount of time," he said.

Some neighbors said the damage may not have been so bad if there were fire extinguishers inside.

"If you had one in that house, that fire would have never went up, that house would have never caught on fire the way it did, it would have just been the kitchen," shared Leon.