Fire, gas leak force evacuations in Muhlenberg

Posted: 2:54 PM EST Feb 19, 2013   Updated: 11:52 PM EST Feb 19, 2013
Muhlenberg Township fire

Firefighters evacuated residents from a block of homes in Muhlenberg Twp., Berks Co., for a brief time Tuesday.

The call came in shortly before 2:30 p.m. for smoke inside a home in the 400 block of Fairview Street, near Madison Avenue, in the Hyde Park section of the township.

The homeowner says he could see black smoke coming from his basement.

"And then I noticed there was so much smoke, that I ran up to the front of the house, and I told my neighbor that my house was on fire, because she┬┤s got a couple kids with her, and I called 911," Koch said.

Shortly after, investigators say a gas leak forced UGI to shut off the gas, and neighbors were evacuated.

"What made this so difficult was the fact that the interior gas meters were compromised, and actually opened up, and when the firefighters arrived there was gas coming out of those gas meters," said Ofc. Joel Marino, Muhlenberg Township Police Dept.

Meanwhile, the homeowner is just glad his neighbors made it out alive.

"We got in plenty of time, I caught it just as it was starting," Koch said.

Officials say it's believed the fire may have been started in the basement by a heater, but they say the official cause is still undetermined.