Flames ripped through the top floor of a 4-story condo complex in the 55+ community, forcing 47 people out of their homes.
The fire was reported around 3:30 p.m. in the 8500 block of Verree Road.
"You could just see the flames shooting out and billows of smoke," Fox Chase resident Kathleen Allegro said.
"Once it got above the ceiling that's when it really took off on us. We're lucky we could cut it off so it didn't go the whole way down the building," Philadelphia Fire Deputy Chief Robert Coyne said.
The fire began in a top corner unit. Crews got it under control within the hour.
Four units on the top level suffered heavy damage. A handful of units in the building were unoccupied and under renovations after lightning struck the building several months ago and caused heavy water damage.
Renovations forced Maureen Connor's 72-year-old parents' Kathleen and Robert to the Poconos. Her father needs to be near the Veterans' Hospital and they were set to move back into their first floor condo in two weeks.
"Crazy, unbelievable. They've been through enough. How much more can people take?" Connor said.
According to fire officials, construction crews left a half hour before the fire.
There is no word on a cause.
The Red Cross is assisting several families affected by the fire.