ALLENTOWN, Pa. (MyFoxPhilly.com) – A fast moving wind swept fire displaced at least 15 Allentown residents Sunday afternoon.
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The fire started in a row home on the 500 block of North 7th Street about 12:30pm.
“The smoke was unbearable. It was coming at your face” said Jacob Washington, whose family’s apartment was gutted.
When firefighters arrived, flames could be seen coming from the first and second floor windows. Video from a mobile phone captured flames as they shot out of a first floor window.
The fire quickly grew to 3 alarms due to the 20 mile-per-hour wind gusts in the area.
Tina Washington, who lives on the third flood, was rescued from her home by a neighbor and four sons while flames and blinding smoke billowed from the home.
“The fire was on my porch. And somebody grabbed me off the porch” said Washington.
“My mom was inside. We had to bring her out and over the rail because the flames were touching our side of the house” said son David Washington.
Firefighters say high winds gusting more than 25 miles an hour were a major factor in fueling the fire.
“It definitely was a more difficult fire to fight because the wind actually blew the fire into 507 and accentuated the fire on the second and third floors” said Lee Laubach, Allentown Asst. Fire Chief.
This is the second time in 10 years the Washington family has lost everything to a fire. The local chapter of the American Red Cross is helping them find a hotel Sunday night but on Monday, the search begins for a new home.
“Homeless. That’s how I feel. Homeless. I’ve worked so hard in this town to get to where I need to be” said Tina Washington.
Fire officials are still investigating but the preliminary cause of the fire is believed to be accidental.