A dozen homeless after Pottstown blaze

January 27, 2008 9:08:41 AM PST
Still no word what sparked a blaze along a historic stretch of Pottstown. A 4-alarm fire burned through several buildings on High Street in Pottstown. It burned from 11:25 a.m. until just before 4 o'clock Saturday afternoon.

For hours, the blaze burned out of control in downtown Pottstown. Shortly after alarms sounded at 11:35 a.m., the fire reached 4 alarms and 20 fire companies from three counties responded to help.

Chief Richard Lengel of the Pottstown Fire Department says, "The buildings that are directly involved have burned completely back to the alley. The initial burned building collapsed totally from front to back."

But the fire spread fast, sending huge plumes of thick, black smoke into the air. It started in the back of a nail salon and spread to surrounding businesses including a furniture store and a restaurant.

Joe Miller owns a hot dog shop across the street. "My building was built in 1880 so there isn't a whole lot of fire retention. Fire walls aren't built like they are today," he said.

Dozens of people living in an apartment complex a block away evacuated because of the smoke. The flames spread to apartments above the businesses.

Tina Buchner rushed home to her children and her babysitter to find the flames had engulfed her apartment. "That's everything I own. All my kid's stuff, all my stuff. I have nothing left. I don't know what to do," said Buckner.

The buildings involved sit along this historic stretch of High Street on Pottstown's Main Street. Because they are so old it made it even more difficult for firefighters to fight this fire.

No one was hurt. The Red Cross will help the 12 to 15 people who lost their homes. The buildings, some more than a hundred twenty five years old, must be rebuilt brick by brick.