Lehigh Valley

Fire damages apartments in Palmer Township

No injuries reported as firefighters save residents, cats

9 people displaced after crews battle apartment fire in Palmer Township

PALMER TOWNSHIP, Pa. - Some people living in the Gateway Terrace apartments in Palmer Twp., Northampton Co., didn't even realize their building was burning when firefighters arrived shortly after noon Thursday.

Contractors working at the apartments said they knew something was wrong.

"I heard the crackling in the third floor ceiling," said Rob Griess, a worker for Brian Professional Flooring. "I ran through the building, knocked on every door trying to get everybody out. As I came out of the building, I saw the smoke billowing out."

Four different fire departments responded to the call for help.

You could see them busting through doors and looking for any visible flames under the roof.

Firefighters are not sure how long the fire was burning.

"We did receive alarm activation so we did have early notification," added Palmer Municipal Fire Department commissioner, Stephen Gallagher. "However the crews on the roof were telling me that it was spongy, which means that it has weakened."

The apartments' residents couldn't believe their eyes.

Some hugged each other for support while emergency service workers kept others warm and tried to save the building.

"I have a small black cat, and I'd love to save her," added one man as he watched the fire.

Crews are still trying to determine where this fire started, but people living in the building only want one question answered: Where are they going to live?

"I just have a funny feeling that if the water leak displaced her," said Melissa Killy, as she was checking on her mother, "a fire is going to as well, which is horrible, horrible."

"Right now there are only two affected units," added Gallagher. "The Red Cross has been notified to help them. I've had crews take another look to see if we can allow more residents to go back in their properties."

So far seven adults and two children have been displaced.

There were no injuries and crews did rescue two cats.

The Red Cross provided one family of two adults, three children, and a second family of two adults and one child with food, lodging, infant supplies, blankets and stuffed animals.

According to one resident, the entire 'C' building of the complex was evacuated, and electric and gas service was turned off for the building.

No one has been allowed back into the building.

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