Reading residents survey fire-damaged homes

Residents survey fire-damaged homes

READING, Pa. - More than a dozen people are trying to salvage what they can after a fire damaged three homes in east Reading on Monday.

Ceilings are gone and the floor boards are mangled inside Mario Estrella's home in the 1400 block of Perkiomen Avenue.

"Everything. We lose everything," said Estrella.

Beds, electronics and family photos are all unrecognizable.

"The lady came in and said, 'Fire! fire!' Are you home? And I was running right away," he said.

A home that took Estrella years to save up for was damaged in seconds.

"That's not easy, because that's not one year, three years. It's a lot of time, you know," he said, while holding back tears.

Around 2 p.m. Monday, smoke poured out of the windows of 1429 Perkiomen Ave. The fast-moving fire first ripped through Estrella's home and then jumped to two neighboring homes.

Three homes that are more than a century-old were heavily damaged, leaving 14 people looking for a new place to stay.

"The need for two of the families last night was to stay in a hotel. They had nowhere to stay, so we did put them up in a hotel. They are going to stay there until insurance is able to continue lodging them after that," said Adrian Grieve, tri-county executive director of the American Red Cross.

Kevin Thomas, who lives next to where the fire started, said the fire caused more than $60,000 in damage, but he hopes to rebuild with his wife and three children.

"I believe I'm the hands of the universe and the universe loves me, therefore all things work out in my favor." he said.

All of the homeowners have family or friends in the area that they can stay with, if need be. No one was hurt in the fire.

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