Two families, including one with a 3-year-old boy, are displaced following a row home fire yesterday evening in Brockton that heavily damaged one home and caused moderate to minor damage to three adjacent properties.
Emergency personnel were called to 221 Valley St. just before 6 p.m. for a report of a house fire. Firefighters arrived to see heavy smoke billowing out the upper windows of the home, as well as emanating from the upper floor windows of 219 and 223 Valley St.
"I didn't know there was a fire, until I heard the fire whistles and saw all the trucks pull up in front of my home," said neighbor Mary VanPelt of 216 Valley St. "When I looked outside, I saw thick black smoke shooting out the top floors of my neighbors' homes across the street."
In all, four homes were affected by the fire. The home at 221 Valley St. was occupied by one adult and a child. This residence received the most fire, water and smoke damage. At 219 Valley St., where three adults lived, the structure sustained moderate damage.
The dwelling at 223 Valley St., occupied by two adults and a baby, and 225 Valley St., occupied by two adults and two children, suffered minor smoke and water damage.
No serious injuries were reported.
During the fire, firefighters could be seen carrying a bird cage out of 219 Valley St. The birds, two cockatiels, weren't injured.
"The cause of fire is undetermined," said Tuscarora Fire Chief Thomas Slane Jr., who added that the fire originated in the second floor bathroom of 221 Valley St. He said that the occupants of the home, Adrienne Rodgers and her 3-year-old son, were temporarily displaced but not injured. They are staying with her parents.
"They saved our home," said Edward Glassmyer and Tabatha Murphy of 223 Valley St. They, along with their 1-year-old child, are staying with family as a precaution.
Slane said that all the responding fire companies worked hard to save these homes.
"This was the second fire I witnessed in less than a year," said VanPelt, referring to a fire at 209 Valley St. last December that forced an older woman from her home.
"I was surprised when the fire trucks pulled up," said neighbor Charlie Hosler, who praised the quick response of the Brockton Fire Company and all responding units.
Prior to firefighters arrival, several neighbors were quick to offer assistance.
Neighbors noted that Ray Fayash, Joe Yesavage, Rich Magnani and Johny Ziolko ran into 221 Valley St. to make sure everyone was out. In addition, Fayash used a fire extinguisher with hopes of slowing down the fire. Magnani said the fire was too much for the extinguisher.
Responding were firefighters from Brockton, Tuscarora, MaryD, Tamaqua, New Philadelphia and Pottsville. Also responding were Tamaqua Rescue Squad, Schuylkill Township Police, Tamaqua Ambulance and Ryan Township Rescue who also served as rehab and EMS.
"If it weren't for the firemen, the homes would've been destroyed," added VanPelt, who said that firefighters were very quick to raise their ladders and put water on the flames. "Firefighters were on scene within minutes, if not seconds, of the call."
Volunteers with the Tamaqua Volunteers community initiative group and Tamaqua Salvation Army are providing assistance to the families.
The Tamaqua Volunteers group has also opened a one-month fund to help the affected families replace beds and other items lost in the fire.
Monetary donations can be made at any Wells Fargo Bank by referring to "September 16 Row Home Fire in Brockton." Volunteers encourage people to donate any amount, no matter how small.
More information about making donations can be made by phoning (570) 668-1234.