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Firefighters battle apartment building fire in Reading

By Dwayne Parker, Reporter, DParker@wfmz.com
Published On: May 03 2013 12:32:05 PM CDT
Updated On: May 03 2013 10:31:17 PM CDT

Two alarm fire in Reading forces several families out their homes

READING, Pa. -

The Reading Fire Department is calling on the public to help them get to the bottom of a fire that ripped through an apartment building in the 200 block of S. 5th Street in Reading, Friday.

The fire started around 1:30 p.m., on the porch of a rear apartment, investigators said.

No one was at home at the time, officials said.

The blaze has left people like Angelica Pagan and her two children without a home.

"I'm a single parent with two kids. What am I going to do now?" asked Pagan, who says she has no relatives nearby, nor any homeowner's insurance. "I'm screwed basically."

The flames were so intense, officials said they burned through the boot of one firefighter, sending him to the hospital.

That firefighter has since been released, authorities said.

"It was hot. It was an extremely hot fire up there. They really took a beating pushing in on it," said Deputy Chief Nicholas Amicone.

Officials confirmed several of the top floors were destroyed, and some of the bottom floors, all the way down to the basement, sustained severe water damage, making them uninhabitable.

Some tenants were allowed back into the building to quickly grab some personal belongings, but officials say it may be quite some time before residents are allowed to move back in.

As authorities continue to search for the cause of this fire, they are asking anyone in the area with surveillance video to contact the fire department at this number (610) 655-6086.

If no one answers, officials stress, leave a message.