Billowing smoke and flames filled the Mahanoy City skyline around 12:30 this morning as firefighters from many surrounding communities fought a fast-moving fire and kept it from spreading to other row homes located in the 1100 block of East Pine Street.
"All the firefighters did a great job of stopping the fire before it claimed the entire block," one witness to the fire said.
The fire displaced four families, 15 people, living from 1113 to 1119 E. Pine St.
The fire started in the basement of 1117 E. Pine St. Six homes were noticeably damaged, while four of them were destroyed.
Below freezing temperatures and frozen water made fighting the fire a little more challenging because of the cold conditions and icy surfaces.
One after one, firefighters pulled cats from the burning structure. Oxygen was also provided to two cats by firefighters. In all, 13 wet and but alive cats were pulled from the structure and given to the Red Cross for temporary holding.
Firefighters and rescuers from Mahanoy City, Tamaqua, Hometown, Shenandoah, Pottsville, and other surrounding areas responded. Volunteers from the Schuylkill Northumberland Chapter of the American Red Cross were also on scene providing help to the displaced families as well as providing snacks and hot refreshments to the firefighters and emergency responders on scene until 5 a.m.
One of the residents displaced was pregnant. Another victim of the fire gave life-saving credit to an unknown person who was outside screaming over and over again, "Get out! everyone get out!"