Hundreds of firefighters battled an entire block of homes ablaze on Water Street in New Philadelphia this morning.

Unconfirmed reports said that two persons died in the blaze. There was no information, however, as to the identity or ages of the victims. One report said the victims were two women who lived together.

The fire started before 6 a.m. and affected an entire block, consisting of seven homes ranging from 74-86 Water Street.

All the homes were occupied.

Many surrounding residents speculate it as another arson. But this wasn't confirmed, pending an investigation by a state police fire marshal.

New Philadelphia, especially Water Street, has been ravaged by numerous fires over the past few months, and even years. Neighbors living near the fire stated that the fire appeared to start in the middle of the block on two of the back wooden porches.

One of the homes destroyed also served as the Dolores Beauty Shop.

Despite New Philadelphia's communitywide strength to catch the arsonist, no suspects have been arrested.

Firefighters from New Philadelphia, Pottsville, Tamaqua, St. Clair, Tuscarora, Minersville, and other surrounding areas were still fighting the fire as of press time.

When the fire was discovered, hundreds of firefighters were still on-scene at two other large structure fires a warehouse in Schuylkill Haven and the Blue Mountain Christian Retreat in New Ringgold.

The Schuylkill and Northumberland Chapter of the American Red Cross was on scene helping the families and providing drinks and snacks to the emergency responders.

Anyone with information concerning this or any past fires in New Philadelphia is asked to call the police.