A fierce three-alarm fire gutted two homes and damaged three others in Slatington Wednesday afternoon.
No injuries were reported, but 14 people were displaced as a result of the outbreak that occurred just after noon.
Slatington Fire Chief Keith Weaver said firefighters were called to a fire in two attached homes at 560 and 562 W. Franklin St.
Weaver said the dwelling fire extended into two additional homes at 554 and 556 W. Franklin, which sustained severely damaged attics.
A fifth residence, a separate home at 566 W. Franklin, had minor damage, Weaver said.
One firefighter sustained a minor injury, but was treated at the scene, he said. One cat died.
Also on hand to assist the Slatington Fire Department were Walnutport, Friedens, Germansville, Neffs, Schnecksville, Lehigh Township, Palmerton, and Aquashicola fire companies.
Greenawalds and Catasauqua companies provided rapid intervention teams to protect firefighters.
Weaver said the cause of the fire remains under investigation.
The home at 560 W. Franklin belonged to former borough Mayor David Altrichter, who served in that capacity from 1978-1981.
Altrichter said he was visiting his mother at Cedarbrook when his sister-in-law, an employee, told him there was a fire oon his block. His wife, Janice, was volunteering at the Volunteer Center of America just off Airport Road at the time, he said.
The couple lived at the home since 1972, Altrichter said.
"To see it like that is unbelievable," Altrichter said. "It's all freaking gone."
Altrichter said he lost a collection of local photographs, newspaper articles, and a larger pin/badge collection.
"If it's gone, it's gone," he said. "We'll leave it up to the experts to find out what happened."
Alice Harper, the sister of Altrichter, said he and his wife could stay with them as she witnessed the home burn.
"They can stay with us," Harper said. "We live down the street."
Altrichter said he was glad to have the support of his sister.
"Family is family; you can't replace family," he said. "This is the absolute worst nightmare you can think of."
The American Red Cross of the Greater Lehigh Valley provided meals to all those displaced: two adults at 560 W. Franklin, four adults at 562 W. Franklin, two adults at 554 W. Franklin, two adults at 556 W. Franklin, and four adults at 566 W. Franklin. All those displaced by the fire found lodging with relatives, the Red Cross said.
The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Catholic Church at 633-649 W. Washington St. in Slatington was opened as a Family Reception Center for the Red Cross to meet with the affected families and provide immediate emergency assistance.