Fire damages four York City row homes


On the third floor of the house where York City Fire Chief David Michaels said a fire started early Monday, sisters Olinpia and Marcelina Gonzalez and their roommate Bruno Tineo picked through their ruined apartment, gathering what they could.

Michaels said the first call came in about 5:45 a.m. The fire affected four row homes in the 600 block of Dallas Street, he said, and temporarily displaced 14 people — 11 adults and three children.

It started on the third-floor deck behind 606 Dallas St., Michaels said, and spread along the roofs of the homes. The building at 606 sustained the most damage, he said.

The cause was determined to be accidental: "We believe it was discarded smoking material," Michaels said.

The beginning: Tineo, 74, is from the Dominican Republic and speaks only Spanish, so he spoke through a bilingual neighbor.

Tineo rose early Monday morning to walk his roommates' sister, who was visiting from New York, down the street so she could catch a ride, he said.

He said he smoked a cigarette on the way and had finished it by the time he got back to the house, where he climbed the fire escape and entered his apartment through the back door.

Marcelina Gonzalez didn't feel well and was making tea in the kitchen, which is in the back of the house, he said.

Tineo said he then went to bed. Gonzalez did as well but then realized she hadn't turned off the light in the kitchen. From the kitchen, she saw flames on the back deck and ran downstairs yelling "Fuego! Fuego!" — "fire" in Spanish — to wake everyone in the building, Tineo said.

Most of the three roommates' possessions were destroyed by fire and water damage, Tineo said, but he managed to save their important papers after Marcelina Gonzalez yelled at him to grab them.

They were in a small suitcase, he said.

The building's other occupants, a woman who lives on the first floor and a couple who live on the second, evacuated the building immediately, he said.

What remains: Between structural damage and loss of personal property, officials estimate the damage to 604-610 Dallas St. at about $395,000, Michaels said.

The floor of Tineo's apartment was covered in layers of trampled debris, including most of the ceiling panels.

Marcelina and Olinpia Gonzalez looked through the damp and blackened remnants to get what they could and packed belongings on the back deck, hanging wet things out to dry.

The outside of their apartment was scorched. Bits of burnt yellow insulation protruded from the wall, and the rain gutter looked as if it had been ripped apart.

They fed their tiny kitten, Boninga, which Marcelina Gonzalez said she carried downstairs when she saw the fire.

Help: Houses 606, 608 and 610 are marked with pink papers that show they are condemned.

The Red Cross is helping those who were displaced, Michaels said.

Tineo said he wasn't sure where he would stay. Marcelina Gonzalez would stay with a brother, he said.

— Reach Julia Scheib at