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Pottsville residents look to rebuild lives in aftermath of massive fire

By Jamie Stover, Reporter, JStover@wfmz.com
Published On: Nov 24 2013 12:51:52 PM CST

Pottsvillle fire under investigation

POTTSVILLE, Pa. -

A massive fire that ripped through four row-homes in Pottsville has left 10 people without a home.

The Pottsville Fire Department reports that at least three of the four homes are severely damaged, and unlikely salvageable. A few hours after the fire ignited, firefighters said a ceiling in one of the homes collapsed.

The fire erupted just before 4 p.m. on Friday in the 200 block of Schuylkill Avenue. Investigators are still working on identifying a cause and source of the fire.

"It happened so fast," said Nicole Spitler, who lives in one of the homes damaged by the fire.

Spitler was upstairs doing laundry and straightening up when she heard kicking at her front door. Spitler said she grabbed her two young children and ran out the back door.

The mother-of-three left her two young children with neighbors while she rushed to locate her oldest child.

"I jumped in my car and picked up my oldest, I needed to physically have her in front of me so there wasn't any chance of her going in there," Spitler said.

When she returned, flames consumed her roof.

"I hyperventilated, I lost it. Someone was rubbing my back telling me it was okay," Spitler said.

On Saturday morning, Spitler saw the fire's ruthlessness firsthand.

"I walked through the house. It's pretty gone," Spitler said.

While Spitler's home was considered the least damaged of the four, she believes her home is completely ruined.

On the night of the fire, Spitler and her two children ran out of their home without shoes and jackets.

"A neighbor went and bought my kids coats and shoes. They were great," Spitler said.

With Thanksgiving less than a week away and Christmas right behind it, Spitler said this holiday season looks to be a rough one.

"With three kids right before the holidays, it's tough," Spitler said.

Spitler and other families affected by the fire are working with the Red Cross.

Jody Bowman also rummaged through the devastation on Saturday morning. Her grandparents live in one of the homes that went up in flames.

"We're trying to see what we can gather and save for them," Bowman said.

Bowman's grandmother was one of the three taken to the hospital for minor injuries on Friday night.

While most belongings were tossed to the curb, Bowman said some pictures were saved.