15 people displaced after fire damages three homes in Norristown

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (WPVI) -- The Red Cross is assisting 15 people after fire damaged three rowhomes in Norristown.

Jamie Arthur told Action News her home, one of the three damaged, has been in her family for decades.

"It's my mother, it's my house, it's my life," she said.

Arthur owns the house now, as well as one next door. Her friends and family, including several nieces and nephews, live in them.

The homes sit heavily damaged on the 1200 block of Powell Street after a fire started in 1206 and damaged the ones on either side.

Fire crews were called around 11:30 p.m. Sunday and arrived to find flames on the second floor. There were reports of people trapped.

"Two civilians self-evacuated," said Norristown Fire Chief Tom O'Donnell. "They jumped from third floor windows onto the second floor roof."

Wrapped tightly in blankets, residents watched as crews battled the flames in bitter cold temperatures early Monday.

Trucks were dispatched with rock salt because the water from the fire fight turned so quickly to ice.

Buses were positioned nearby for warmth.

"The cold temperatures are bringing icy conditions to the fire ground," said O'Donnell as efforts to douse the fire continued, describing "multiple SEPTA buses and medical buses trying to keep personnel warm."

Arthur's longtime friend Jackie Jones Mitchell rushed to the scene after seeing the news.
"New Year's, Christmas, Thanksgiving - we used to come here, all the families," she said. "I'm just glad everyone got out safe."

One firefighter suffered a minor injury.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
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