Firefighter hurt battling large blaze in Pennsauken, New Jersey

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Firefighter hurt in Pennsauken fire: Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News at noon on April 19. (WPVI)

Crews battled a large fire in Pennsauken, New Jersey that left a firefighter injured and put several residents out of their homes.

"I just never thought that this would happen to me," said Jewelyana Sharples.

Sharples was visibly distraught as she saw her childhood home on the 7400 block of Zimmerman Ave. engulfed in flames that shot up into the night sky.

The Pennsauken Fire Department said the blaze broke out around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

The fire was so massive you could see it clearly from the Betsy Ross Bridge.

"I heard some fire engines that sounded off in the distance," said neighbor Darrell Shell. "I stepped out front, and the whole street was trucks. And I could only see smoke up the street."

Several engines blared their sirens as they descended upon the quiet neighborhood.

"My husband said it was something big, and I just opened the door and saw the fire," said Susan Shell. "When I came out it was shooting up in the air it was really bad."

By the time firefighters arrived, the flames burning through the upper floors of the two-story family home, and embers were flying to neighboring homes and some railroad tracks nearby.

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Firefighter hurt in Pennsauken blaze: Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News at 6:30 a.m. on April 19.

New Jersey Transit said it briefly interrupted early morning light rail service.

It took firefighters a couple of hours to finally get the upper hand.

One firefighter was briefly trapped in an upper floor but was able to get out before the home collapsed. Another firefighter injured his ankle while battling the flames.

The two families living inside were able to evacuate safely. One resident says it's all thanks to his dogs who woke him up just in time.

"We all went and got water for them, and coats and blankets," said one neighbor. "All of the neighbors that were up there were helping. I just feel so bad."

And as for Jewelyana Sharples and her family?

"Everything is gone," she said. "My brother has nothing. My mom has nothing. Everything I had is gone."

Sharples was babysitting her brothers at her father's house in Northeast Philadelphia.

Jason Gonzalez got the panicked call from Sharples' mother.

"She just called me up and said my house is burning down and right away I knew that she was serious because she was crying hysterically," he said.
Sharples rushed home to find the neighborhood lit up by the flames that tore through her home.

"Horrible," she said. "I've lived here since I was two. I just can't believe it."

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Firefighter hurt in Pennsauken fire: Jeannette Reyes reports during Action News at 5 a.m. on April 19.

The American Red Cross is assisting the family.

Fire investigators are working to determine the cause.
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