Gnawing squirrels contribute to cause of fire, officials say

Damage estimated at $350,000

WYOMISSING, Pa. - Investigators have pinpointed the cause of a fire that damaged part of an apartment complex in Berks County.

The fire at the Cambridge Commons in Wyomissing on Sunday was sparked by "a malfunction with an energized component of the electrical system" in the attic above one of the apartments in the "E" Building, according to fire officials.

A contributing factor to that malfunction, officials said, was a wire that had been gnawed on by squirrels.

The building's residents were able to escape the fire despite the smoke detectors not going off. Officials said they weren't triggered because of the fire being above the ceiling.

Officials estimated the fire caused $350,000 worth of damage. They said four of the units are off limits to residents until a structural engineer can evaluate the extent of damage to the roof trusses and structural components.

Fire officials said they have ordered the complex to check all of its attic spaces and utility rooms for any squirrel access and activity. All exposed wiring must also be examined for damage and promptly repaired.

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