Two alarm fire breaks out on Pike Street in Reading

'Good Samaritans' help woman, 89, make it to safety

Passersby rescue woman, 89, from backyard of burning home

READING, Pa. - Some quick-thinking neighbors in Reading are being credited with a heroic rescue after saving an elderly woman from fire.

Grace Kruppenbach, 89, was pulled to safety after her home was engulfed by flames. The fire was reported around 9:15 p.m. Thursday at 534 Pike St. The fire quickly jumped to two alarms as firefighters worked to save the home.

"Everything we put into this house and it all went up in flames," said Kruppenbach, who lived in the home with her son for 15 years.

Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked through the front door Friday.

"I had my checkbooks in there and I had all my medical stuff in there, and everything is gone," said Kruppenbach.

Even her walker and canes she uses to get around were destroyed. The ceiling fan was in the middle of the floor and the roof and walls of the home were charred and splintered.

"I saw the flames go up and I tried to get out the front of the house and I yelled for her where she was," said David Harman, Kruppenbach's son, who was cooking dinner inside at the time of the fire.

"We were inhaling that smoke and I was choking," Kruppenbach said.

She ran out the back door and her son went through the front. The only problem was flames were shooting out the back of the house and the fence outside was locked. That's where the neighbors came in.

"They lifted me over the fence and the other guy on the other side helped take me out of the yard," said Kruppenbach.

"She had to get over the fence. We picked her up. She looked like she was going to pass out, so I kind of picked her up over my shoulder a little bit and got her out of the area," said Deserie Knarr, one of the people who helped the woman.

The neighbors pulled Kruppenbach to safety and gave her water and a jacket. Now, she wants to thank them and buy them all a card for saving her life.

"I guess when everything is all said and done I'll just see them around and give them a hug and thank them for what they did," she said.

The fire was sparked by cooking oil on the kitchen stove, according to Larry Moyer, the city's fire marshal.

Three other homes suffered smoke damage. Kruppenbach and her son are staying at a hotel, but they plan to rebuild.

"As long as everybody got out alive the neighbors they helped out that's all that matters," said Harman.

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