Independence Day fires damage school, homes in Reading


Independence Day turned into a busy night for Reading's firefighters. On top of a fire at Amanda Stout Elementary School on South 10th Street and a house at North Second and Elm streets, multiple dumpster and trash fires were reported.

The alleys around the school were littered with fireworks debris. Officials said someone set off a firework that ultimately came down on the roof, causing it to catch fire.

"To come back and see all this, it was frightening," said Carlette Conde.

The holiday celebration turned out to be anything but that for some homeowners. Fire in the corner house spread to Conde's sister's home in the 300 block of North Second Street. There's so much damage, the people who live there can't go back inside.

"From what I'm hearing from the neighbors, they say it was the fireworks," Conde said. "They heard a lot of fireworks going off."

Investigators are still trying to determine if fireworks are to blame there, but they said fireworks did spark a fire at the school, damaging the roof, a parking garage, and several classrooms.

"When our member got up there, they actually had fire," said Jeremy Searfoss, the city's fire marshal. "It wasn't just smoke. We had live fire that was burning the roofing material."

Searfoss said crews also responded to multiple calls of dumpster and trash fires. Crews from outside the city were even called in to help. Searfoss said most of the calls boil down to mischief and irresponsibility.

"Driving in here last night, honestly, it looked like a war zone, the amount of fireworks being shot in the middle of the street," he said.

Officials said keep in mind that shooting off fireworks could end up causing injuries or destroying someone else's property in a city so tightly packed as Reading.

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