Reading fire damages three row homes

Red Cross helping 2 families displaced by 2-alarm fire

Posted: 7:13 AM EDT Mar 12, 2013   Updated: 7:19 PM EDT Mar 12, 2013

Investigators are convinced a 2-alarm fire in Reading early Tuesday morning is a case of arson.

Firefighters were dispatched the 1000 block of Buttonwood Street around 3:15 a.m. Tuesday for a fire that started at 1039 Buttonwood and then spread to two other homes, officials said.

"We were able to confine the fire to the buildings that the fire was when we arrived," said Dep. Fire Chief Nicholas Amicone, Reading Fire Dept.

The fire gutted the 1039 residence and damaged the other two row homes, said Lt. Jeremy Searfoss, Reading Fire Dept.

A family of four -- two adults and two children -- lived at 1039 Buttonwood St. and were not home when the fire started, said Searfoss.

"He was at work all night, came home, found his house burned down. Obviously, the worst day of his life," said Searfoss.

No one was injured, but two families are seeking shelter with the American Red Cross, officials said.

The fire was no accident, officials said.

"We're confident, based on our investigation, that it's an intentionally based fire. We collected somewhere around a dozen samples," said Searfoss.

An Allentown fire K9 officer assisted the Reading fire marshal with the investigation.

Interviews are still being conducted and will resume on Wednesday to see if officials can track down any leads as to who may have started the fire, investigators said.