Officials state arson is the cause of the fast moving fire that destroyed five homes, as well as damaging five others, early Saturday morning in Shenandoah that left seven people permanently displaced.

Just after 2 a.m. Saturday firefighters in Schuylkill county were called to fully-engulfed row home fire in Shenandoah that quickly stretched from West Centre Street all the way around the block to South Catherine Street. When it was over, more than 10 homes were damaged by the fast moving fire. Five homes stretching from 508-514 West Centre Street were destroyed by the blaze, while five other surrounding homes sustained fire, heat, smoke, or water damage.

An older man was taken to the hospital after firefighters had to use an extension ladder to rescue him from his second floor apartment located at 508 West Centre Street. Officials stated that the fire started in the rear of a vacant home located at 514 West Centre Street and quickly spread.

Prior to the emergency response, three or more large explosions and a number of smaller explosions were heard and gave strength to the fire. A witness, who lived a number of blocks from the fire, stated that he heard and felt three large explosions followed by about 12 loud smaller firecracker-like sounds.

Firefighters from Shenandoah, Englewood, Frackville, Pottsville, Ringtown, Mahanoy City, Girardville, Ashland, Union Township and Shenandoah Heights struggled for more than three hours to keep the whole block from going up as the fire quickly wrapped around an entire block jumping from home to home.

EMS units from Shenandoah, Frackville, Mahanoy City and Lost Creek also responded. Shenandoah fire police and Shenandoah police maintained crowd control and closed West Centre Street until about 11 a.m. that day.

The Shenandoah Octoberfest was also planned the same day. The large fire had firefighters, paramedics, fire police, and Red Cross volunteers on scene for more than eight hours. Ten families, consisting of 15 adults and 3 children were displaced by the fire, five of which are permanently displaced.

The displaced also include a pregnant woman and three elderly residents. Two firefighters also suffered minor injuries fighting the fire. The Schuylkill and Northumberland Chapter of the American Red Cross is helping the families with lodging and emergency supplies. Officials stated the arson fire is still under investigation.