Firefighters battle apartment blaze in Center City

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Firefighters battle 12th story apartment blaze in Center City. Christie Ileto reports during Action News at 11 p.m. on July 5, 2017.

Philadelphia fire crews were on the scene of an apartment blaze in Center City on Wednesday evening.

The fire started after 7 p.m. inside the Walnut Square Apartments on the 200 block of South 13th Street.

"There was a loud banging explosion noise right outside my apartment, and the fire got brighter," one resident said.

That sound likely came from what investigators believe was the fire starting in an air conditioning unit.

A column of smoke fanned from the roof of an apartment building at 13th and Walnut.

Resident Madeline Mcknight said, "I was terrified. I was afraid it was going to get out of control."

A sea of hoses, fire trucks and first responders flooded the Center City neighborhood.

Firefighters had to break windows to pull several feet of hose up at least 12 flights of stairs to tame the flames.

Deputy Chief James Renninger said, "The buildings this size are a bigger challenge, much more labor intensive than other dwellings. The chief's call for extra help did a great aggressive interior attack and actually saved the building and anyone that was in it."

The blaze is believed to have started on the second floor and raced to the third floor.

It was so intense, the smoke billowing from the roof could be seen as far away as South Philadelphia. A viewer snapped a photo from the Phillies' baseball stadium.

"It seems like everyone is going to be okay, not under control, but it's pretty scary to walk down and see all the fire trucks, and you realized it's was actually real," McKnight said.

Crews placed the blaze under control by 8:21 p.m.

There were no reports of injuries. But several people were displaced.

The building houses 132 units and 8 were vacant.

The residents will not be allowed back in the building until L & I has done its inspections.

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