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Nine Responders Injured In Fast-Spreading Fire

Reading Eagle via YellowBrix

August 01, 2011

READING, PA – Nine firefighters and four residents were injured Sunday morning in a fire in an apartment house in Reading, fire officials said.

The fire started about 10 a.m. on the second floor of the building at 245 S. 10th St. and quickly spread to the second floor of the adjoining apartment building at 243 S. 10th, Deputy Fire Chief Ron E. Wentzel Jr. said.

A total of 16 residents were displaced, officials said.

Four third-floor residents of the building at 245 S. 10th were taken by ambulance to Reading Hospital, where they were treated for smoke inhalation, Wentzel said.

At least one of the victims is an infant, he said.

Wentzel did not know the victims’ names or ages. Information on their conditions could not be obtained.

“I have been told it was nothing life-threatening,” Wentzel said.

Eight firefighters were treated at the scene for heat exhaustion, and one firefighter was treated for burns to his hands and wrists, Wentzel said.

“He’s fine,” Wentzel said of the firefighter, whose name he did not release. “Back on the job.”

Both buildings are uninhabitable, Wentzel said.

The Berks County Chapter, American Red Cross, was assisting nine of the displaced residents with food, clothing and housing, said Lori Lowery, planning coordinator for the Red Cross.

The cause of the fire is under investigation. A damage estimate had not been set.

City firefighters were stretched thin during the apartment house fire when a call came in for a small electrical fire at Trinity Lutheran Church at Sixth and Washington streets.

Second Deputy Chief William Stoudt said the fire was minor. The church was evacuated and power was shut off to the building until a Met-Ed crew arrived.

Every piece of fire apparatus in the city and every firefighter were tied up at both scenes, Wentzel said. Off-duty firefighters were called in along with several other county fire departments.

Firefighters needed about an hour to control the South 10th Street fire.