Fire on Easter Sun­day strikes Birds­boro home

Two-alarm blaze causes ex­ten­sive dam­age but no one in­jured

The Southern Berks News - - FRONT PAGE - By Evan Brandt ebrandt@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @PottstownNews on Twit­ter

POTTSTOWN >> Area fire­fight­ers did not get much chance to sit down to Easter din­ner this year.

Two fires, one in Birds­boro and one in Pottstown, kept them busy un­til the sun went down.

The two-alarm Birds­boro fire was on Cin­der Street and the Pottstown fire that fol­lowed it was on East Fifth Street.

The Birds­boro fire, the more se­vere of the two, ap­pears to have be­gun in the base­ment of 123 Cin­der St. when home­owner James Brown heard a loud bang.

He at first thought some­thing had hit the out­side of the house, then went to check on his base­ment and found it en­gulfed in flames, he told a pho­tog­ra­pher.

Brown, his wife, his 14-year-old daugh­ter and three pup­pies es­caped un­harmed, and one dog was in­jured but ap­pears to be re­cov­er­ing said Birds­boro Fire Mar­shal Ken Tem­plin.

The house is a twin and the oc­cu­pants of 121 Cin­der St. were not at home.

It was a stub­born fire and was still be­ing fought 90 min­utes af­ter the first call came in around 3 p.m.

“It got up into the walls and went right up to the sec­ond floor,” said Tem­plin. “There was a crawl space up there we had a hard time get­ting into.”

The cause of that fire is “un­de­ter­mined,” Tem­plin said.

He es­ti­mated dam­ages at “about $81,000 be­tween the struc­ture and the con­tents.”

Tem­plin said the dam­age to 121 Cin­der St. was pri­mar­ily smoke and “wasn’t ex­ten­sive. It is un­in­hab­it­able now though.”

The dam­age at 123 Cin­der St. was more se­vere, he said.

Re­spond­ing to the Cin­der Street blaze were units from the Birds­boro-Union, Monarch, Ex­eter Town­ship, Gi­bral­tar, Mount Penn, Geiger­town, Amity, and Wy­omiss­ing de­part­ments from Berks County, Tem­plin said, as well as sev­eral from Mont­gomery County.

Pottstown fire­fight­ers were among those bat­tling the Birds­boro blaze and were just wind­ing down when the call of a struc­ture fire at 31 E. Fifth St. came through at 5:30 p.m.

“They re­leased us and when the sec­ond alarm went off, we were just pass­ing Stowe,” said fire­fighter Mark Gib­son.

The Pottstown blaze be­gan in a sec­ond floor bed­room win­dow sill where a wire en­ters the home.

A young man — one of 10 peo­ple who live in the home — tried to put it out first with a sweat­shirt, then a cup of wa­ter and fi­nally a fire ex­tin­guisher, but the smoke kept pour­ing from the wood around the win­dow, ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses.

The res­i­dents left the house as fire­fight­ers ar­rived and rushed into the home.

Mo­ments later, the win­dows of the front bed­room were smashed out from the in­side and smoke be­gan pour­ing from both win­dows. North End fire­fighter Dave Say­lor be­gan pry­ing and break­ing apart the win­dow sash and flame could be seen licking up the wood as a lad­der was set up out front and the Phillies Fire Com­pany’s tower truck be­gan ma­neu­ver­ing the truck lad­der into po­si­tion.

Fire­fight­ers climbed the truck lad­der and tore out the eaves of the roof to make sure the fire had not spread there.

By 6:20 p.m., the fire­fight­ers from about eight dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies were clean­ing up and sort­ing out whose hose was whose.

Pottstown Fire Chief Richard Len­gel said the fire was con­tained to the front bed­room and one “ju­ve­nile male” suf­fered a mi­nor burn to his hand, but re­fused med­i­cal treat­ment.

While there is still in­ves­ti­gat­ing to be done, Len­gel said the cause of the fire “ap­pears to be ac­ci­den­tal” and may have been elec­tri­cal.

He es­ti­mated dam­ages as be­ing “up­wards of $10,000” due not only to smoke dam­age and the bro­ken win­dows and roof­ing, but also to wa­ter dam­age in the bed­room and the floor be­low.

Re­spond­ing to the Pottstown fire were the four bor­ough fire com­pa­nies — Phillies, North End, Good­will and Em­pire, along with West End, New Hanover, Lim­er­ick and the fire po­lice.

“It got up into the walls and went right up to the sec­ond floor. There was a crawl space up there we had a hard time get­ting into.” Ken Tem­plin, Birds­boro Fire Mar­shal

TOM KELLY III — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Fire­fight­ers pre­pare a roof at­tack on the fire at 123 Cin­der St. in Birds­boro Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Flames roar from the sec­ond floor of 123 Cin­der St. in Birds­d­boro Sun­day af­ter­noon.

TOM KELLY III — FOR DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Smoke and flames en­ve­lope a twin home at 123 Cin­der St. in Birds­boro Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Fire­fight­ers tear out the win­dows and roof eaves at 31 E. Fifth St. in re­sponse to a fire there early Sun­day evening.

EVAN BRANDT — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

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