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Fire severely damages eight homes in Allentown

By Catherine Hawley, Reporter, @CatherineH_WFMZ, chawley@wfmz.com
Published On: May 26 2013 09:32:32 AM CDT
Updated On: May 27 2013 12:32:24 PM CDT

Allentown Fire leaves many homeless

ALLENTOWN -

Twenty-three people barely escaped a fast-moving fire that gutted eight row homes in Allentown. Amazingly, no one was injured in the early Sunday morning fire.

Residents of the 1100 block of Catasauqua Avenue had just seconds to escape.

"At first, we thought it was something very small," said resident Celso Morales.

The fire broke out just before 3 a.m. According to Allentown Fire Chief Robert Scheirer, the flames traveled up the roof line where it spread from one home to the next within minutes.

"The fire quickly spread," said Scheirer. "They found fire on several floors already when they arrived."

"We heard them knocking on doors saying, "Get out of the house, get out of the house,'" said Morales.

For hours, Morales and other residents could only watch their homes burn.

"It is completely lost," he said. "Everything is gone."

The fire marshal said the fire was an electrical one that started inside 1108 Catasauqua Avenue. He's ruled it an accident.

Some residents were critical of the fire department's response time.

"It took too long getting the water on it," said resident Eddie Johnson. "It took much too long getting the water."

Scheirer said those residents are not likely to return home for quite some time.

"It's going to be awhile," he said. "There's pretty much devastation. Some of the roofs have collapsed, some of the floors have collapsed."

The Red Cross is helping all the families who were affected.