Update

The cause of the fire has been ruled electrical, said Ed Washington, the West York fire chief.

The blaze started on the third floor of 1211 W. Poplar St., he said.

Previously reported

West York firefighters had to put aside personal feelings early Tuesday morning as they fought to save a row of burning homes.

"We know these folks," West York Fire Chief Ed Washington said.

A couple displaced residents regularly attend borough meetings, and another goes to the borough fire department's bingo nights, he said.

"It hits close to home," the chief said.

Crews from across York County were called to help battle the four-alarm blaze, which badly damaged four row homes and left 10 people homeless, according to Washington.

A Tuesday-morning blaze damaged four row homes and displaced 10 people in West York.
A Tuesday-morning blaze damaged four row homes and displaced 10 people in West York. (Courtesy of York Fire Wire)

No one was injured, he said, but added he heard reports that two people were checked out for possible smoke inhalation.

Firefighters were first called to 1211 W. Poplar St. about 3:10 a.m.

Saw flames: "As the guys were reporting to the (fire) station, they could see flames coming out the third-floor window," Washington said.

Five minutes later, firefighters were inside the home, attacking the blaze that started on the third floor, according to the chief.

"At that point the fire was ... very hot, very intense," he said, and the homes' common attics allowed flames to spread to 1209 and 1213 W. Poplar St.

All three homes were badly damaged, and 1215 W. Poplar St. sustained some damage as well, Washington said.

The family at 1215 likely will only be temporarily displaced, the chief said, but the other three homes will require extensive repairs.

According to Washington, 1211 W. Poplar St. will need a complete restoration, but noted the building itself is structurally sound. He said the third floors of 1209, 1211 and 1213 are destroyed.

Eight adults and two children, comprising four families, were left homeless, according to a news release from the York-Adams Chapter of the American Red Cross, which is assisting the victims with food, clothing and shelter.

Firefighters work inside the third floor of a house on West Poplar Street in West York Tuesday. Part of an exterior wall is no longer there.
Firefighters work inside the third floor of a house on West Poplar Street in West York Tuesday. Part of an exterior wall is no longer there. (Greg Gross)

The Red Cross also provided canteen and respite services to the more than 60 firefighters on scene, according to the release.

Woke to screams: Brandon Morse was asleep with his family inside their 1213 W. Poplar St. home when he was awakened by his screaming wife.

"It was really scary," said Morse, whose face was still blackened with soot.

His wife alerted him to the fire, and the couple fled the home with their children and dogs.

"My kids, my family are safe," he said.

Morse stood across the street, looking on as firefighters battled the blaze.

The fire went to four alarms to ensure enough firefighters responded, Washington said.

"At that time of the morning, manpower is light for all (fire) departments," he said.

West York Fire Chief Ed Washington and volunteer Donald Knaub talk on the porch of a West Poplar Street home damaged by fire Tuesday morning.
West York Fire Chief Ed Washington and volunteer Donald Knaub talk on the porch of a West Poplar Street home damaged by fire Tuesday morning. (Bil Bowden)

Fire marshals: A state police fire marshal is investigating to determine the cause of the blaze, Washington said.

"He called in a second (marshal), for a second opinion," the chief said.

One of the fire marshals at the scene Tuesday referred all questions to West York officials.

Washington said he is still working to determine damage estimates for each home.

He was unaware of any pets dying, and said a number of animals were safely taken from the home.

Pets safe: West York's Borough Animal Response Krew (BARK) gathered up seven dogs, four birds and three cats from the homes, according to BARK founder Shelley Metzler, who also is a borough councilwoman.

All the pets will be able to stay with their families, even the families staying in hotels, Metzler said, because the Red Cross has pet agreements with some local hotels.

"We had to get a blind cat off the third floor (of 1215) -- a Himalayan," Metzler said.

Two other cats were trapped inside 1209 W. Poplar St., but later found safe, hiding in second-floor bedrooms, she said.

-- Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com. Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.