READING, Pa. – A two-alarm fire in northwest Reading displaced 21 people Wednesday afternoon.
The fire damaged at least four rowhomes in the 100 block of West Greenwich Street.
"Completely covered in flames in the back," witness Michael Vivna said.
"Very traumatic, because you never know when it could happen to your house," said neighbor Mary Jane Weikel, who lives just down the street.
Weikel said one of her family members lives in one of the damaged homes. She said she could see the smoke from her backyard at around 4:30 p.m.
"The roof on 118 and 120 was really smoking," she said. "I saw the fire."
Officials said, at that point, they believe the fire started at the back of the homes and spread fast.
"We had a significant fire condition from 118 to 120 that was rapidly extending to 122 and 116 from both sides," said Reading Fire Marshal Jeremy Searfoss.
Searfoss said by the time firefighters arrived on scene, everyone in the homes made it out, but some pets were still trapped inside. The Animal Rescue League assisted crews in rescuing a cat, a dog and a few birds.
"I'm grateful to God they all made it out," Weikel said.
Fire officials said every on-duty firefighter in the city responded, along with firefighters from Spring Township and West Reading.
"This could've been much worse, affected additional houses, but because of our members' rapid action putting water on the fire, that stopped what could have been much worse," Searfoss said.
No one was hurt, and the Red Cross is assisting the fire victims by providing them with food, clothing, and lodging. The focus now is on helping them recover from this loss.
"Resume at least some level of normalcy after an event like this," Searfoss said.