Emergency crews are responding to a four-alarm fire in Red Lion this morning at a row of four homes in the 300 block of North First Street.The two-story units with a common roof have sustained heavy damage. Crews continue to douse flames. The roof has collapsed between two of the units. Two on the right of the row are gutted, and the other two are heavily damaged. The addresses are 310 to 316 N. First St.
Firefighters are contending with single-digit temperatures, and water is quickly turning into ice on the ground. Crews are throwing down rock salt to help with the ice. A neighbor has set up a coffee stand to help out firefighters.
The call came in at about 8:25 a.m., according to York County 911.
Lt. Craig Herman, of the York Township Fire Department, said the fire started in the second floor of the end unit, 316 N. First, and quickly spread to the second and third floors of the other homes.He estimated more than 12 people have been displaced and believes that all four units will not be salvageable.
The blaze is under investigation by the state fire marshal.
Herman said the four alarms were forced because of the availability of manpower during the day and the cold factor. He said no one was hurt.
They had trouble with the temperatures and ice on ground made it slippery for firefighters, Herman said.More than a dozen fire companies responded, with more than 50 firefighters.
The fire is located near Broadway and North Franklin Street.
Terry Smeltzer, who owns 314 and 316 N. First St., said he was at work when he heard from his mother about the fire. He came back and said he was glad everyone was safe. He said he felt bad that people were having to deal with the weather.
He said he has no insurance but between family and the Red Cross, he should be OK.
The important thing is his wife, family and neighbors are OK, he said.
Ray Redcay, who lives across the street, had just got out of shower when he looked out and saw snow blowing. When he looked again, he realized it was actually smoke pouring from the roof line across the street.
He then heard windows blow open, and the fire intensified.
He said it didn’t take long for fire crews to respond, but it was so intense “I knew it wasn’t going to be good.”
Firefighters have rescued some pets from the homes.
Roxanne Smeltzer, who managed the Susquehanna Stray Animal Shelter in Lower Windsor Township before it closed a year ago, said she had a number of pets in her home. At least five got out safely, and are in a neighbor’s home now, two died, and others are being rescued.
Firefighters have been seen rescuing at least 20 cats, plus additional dogs.
Neighbors Ken Dutrow and Letha Parthree have opened their home to the dogs, which are sitting in their living room in cages.
“We like animals, we couldn’t see them stay out in the cold,” Dutrow said.