2-alarm fire destroys historic Chestnut Hill building with shop, apartment

The stand-alone building housed the El Quetzal gift shop, Masonic hall and an apartment where a woman was able to escape.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022
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The city will have to determine whether the historic building is structurally sound.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- More than a century's worth of history melted away over the course of a few hours in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia.

A fire broke out around 3:15 a.m. Tuesday in a building on the 8400 block of Germantown Avenue.

Firefighters battle two-alarm fire in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia.

Flames could be seen coming from the second and third floors.

The stand-alone building housed the El Quetzal gift shop, Masonic hall and an apartment where a woman was able to escape.

"I just wanted to get out. You smell smoke and then you leave. I was left with nothing," the woman named Leslie, no last name given, told Action News.

Firefighters battle two-alarm fire in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia.

Fire hoses were snaked along Germantown Avenue, between Highland Avenue and Gravers Lane, for several hours.

The fire reached two alarms. At one point, the roof of the building collapsed as firefighters continued to douse the flames with water.

Members of the community were emotional as the building burned.

"We're a very tight-knit community. This is really devastating...it's devastating," neighbor Beth Milley said.

A cornerstone indicates the building was constructed in 1889. The Masonic lodge was even older.

Neighbors take pride in the area's history.

"Just to see what's going on in the middle of the block is horrible," neighbor George Hobe said.

Firefighters battle two-alarm fire in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia.

Residents are now focusing on their neighbor in need.

"I've known her for about 15 years and we'll find a way to rally around her," Hobe said.

The fire was placed under control at 5:12 a.m. but crews remained on site hours later fighting the flames.

Firefighters will continue checking for hotspots.

The city will also have to determine whether the historic building is structurally sound.

The cause of the fire has not been determined.