Woman rescued from Reading house fire
17 cats, dog, 2 birds died in fire; 6 other cats given oxygen
A Reading woman is fighting for her life after being rescued from her burning home early Monday morning.
Christine Reynolds-Kramer was last listed in critical condition at Lehigh Valley Hospital near Allentown. Emergency crews got the call shortly before 2 a.m. to respond to a fire with entrapment at 718 Ritter St.
Reynolds-Kramer, 61, was trapped and unconscious when firefighters found her on the second floor of the home, officials said.
"We were just going berserk because I just wanted to get in there," said Margarita Pena, who sprung into action to try and save her neighbor.
Pena and another neighbor, Darryll Johnson, were met with heavy, dark smoke when they first opened Reynolds-Kramer's front door.
"We wanted to get in there to help her, but there was no way with that black smoke. We didn't know where she was at, it was a nightmare," said Pena.
Firefighters got control of the fire in about 40 minutes. Investigators said they have determined it was the result of unattended cooking in the kitchen.
Johnson first smelled the smoke on his way home from the store. He made it only a few steps inside before he was forced to turn around.
"It was too much smoke and it just came out and I didn't know what to do. I was coughing and couldn't see, my eyes were burning," Johnson said.
Johnson and Pena said Reynolds-Kramer threw objects down the stairs to let them know she was alive, and they told firefighters where she was.
Sadly, 17 cats, a dog and two birds were killed. Six other cats suffered smoke inhalation. They were treated at the scene with animal oxygen masks and are being cared for at the Animal Rescue League.
Now, Johnson and Pena are being called Batman and Robin. They wish they could have done more, but they were just happy Reynolds-Kramer, who works in the food services department for the Reading School District, was saved.
"She's our neighbor. She's good people and a very nice lady," said Pena.
The fire was ruled accidental, but there were no signs of any working smoke detectors, said fire officials.
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