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Crews battle 2-alarm fire in Berks County

Published On: Apr 23 2013 08:31:47 AM CDT
Updated On: Apr 23 2013 05:30:11 PM CDT

Firefighters managed to make a mad dash to safety just moments before the roof of a burning home collapsed Tuesday morning.

SPRING TWP., Pa. -

Firefighters managed to make a mad dash to safety just moments before the roof of a burning home collapsed Tuesday morning.

The firefighters were called around 9 a.m. to 2936 Marcor Dr., near Wilshire Boulevard, in Spring Township.

They arrived to find what 69 News viewer Kathy Brautigan captured on video -- an intense fire that fully engulfed the 2-story home, sending thick, black smoke high into the air.

The homeowner, Richard Kimber, told 69 News he was getting ready for work when the fire started.

"I saw smoke coming out the door from the garage, and I opened it up and dark smoke and flames hit me in the face," recounted Kimber, who was understandably upset.

Kimber was in his office, ready to go to work. His wife was in Florida, visiting family. By the time Kimber made it outside, his home was fully engulfed.

"You could feel the heat, and ashes were flying through the air," said Amy Heim, who lives in the neighborhood.

Kimber grabbed a fire extinguisher in a desperate attempt to save his memories and the place he's called home for the last 22 years. His nextdoor neighbor, Joe Wylezik, grabbed a garden hose, but the flames were too much. They even melted the siding on his home.

"I was petrified when everything started coming over towards our house," admitted Wylezik. "I was afraid we were going to lose our house as well."

Firefighters then gave it their best effort to save the home and keep the fire from spreading, striking a second alarm to bring additional manpower to the scene.

Video

At one point, the firefighters who went inside the home experienced a close call when part of the roof gave way above them. Fortunately, they sensed the collapse was imminent and scrambled to get back outside just in time, said officials, adding that none of the firefighters was injured.

"Once the fire got to a certain point and we started to have the roof collapse, we did pull those firefighters out and evacuate," said Pat Brandenburg, Spring Twp. fire commissioner.

In addition to the damage done to the home, the flames also destroyed two vehicles -- a Ford Explorer and a Nissan Maxima -- parked in the garage.

"All my cars, all my identification is in there," said Kimber. "Everything you accumulate over your life suddenly be gone. It's a different feeling.

Investigators are still searching for the cause of the fire, but Kimber said it may have been sparked by a heater inside the garage.

Kimber's house has been ruled a total loss, and damage is estimated to be at least $250,000. Damage to Wylezik's home is estimated at $30,000.