Fire on Easter Sunday strikes Birdsboro home
Two-alarm blaze causes extensive damage but no one injured
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
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.
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.