York City firefighters responded to a two-alarm fire at a row house in the 300 block of Pattison Street Thursday, June 28, 2018. York Dispatch


York City's fire chief is crediting smoke detectors for alerting two families to a Thursday-morning house fire early enough for them to escape on their own.

Without that early warning, the 10 residents could have found themselves trapped on the second and third floors of the two-unit apartment house in the 300 block of Pattison Street, according to Chief David Michaels.

Instead, the two adults and three children who lived in each unit made it out safely, although a child was taken to the hospital as a precaution, he said.

A 12-year-old girl suffered smoke inhalation and was transported to the hospital by ambulance, Michaels said. She was expected to be released after being examined, according to the chief.

"She had some soot around her nose and mouth," he said, from breathing in smoke. "She was up on the third floor. Her room was above the fire, and she was the first one to notice it. She definitely heard a smoke detector."

City fire crews responded to the two-alarm blaze at 4:17 a.m. Thursday, June 28, he said.

Flames could be seen billowing from second-floor windows.

Minor burn: The first firefighters to rush inside and up to the second floors "encountered a lot of heat," Michaels said, and one of them suffered "a little burn right around his (air supply) face-piece."

He was treated at the scene, the chief said.

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The family that lived upstairs was able to get their dog and two cats out of the burning house safely, Michaels said.

City firefighters saved two birds belonging to the family on the first floor, he said.

"They were fine," he said.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross is assisting the displaced families, according to the chief.

He said the cause of the fire has been determined to be an electrical malfunction that started in or around a power strip on the second floor that had several extension cords plugged into it. A state police fire marshal investigated jointly with city firefighters, he said.

Salvageable? Michaels estimated total damage at about $150,000, which includes the structure itself and the contents inside. He said he thinks the building is salvageable but noted that decision will be left to the insurance company and property owner.

It took about 30 minutes for fire crews to get the blaze under control and another hour to completely extinguish it, according to the chief. Crews then had cleanup duties that kept them there until about 9:30 a.m., he said.

"It was a labor-intensive fire," Michaels said.

About two years ago, a house down the block from Thursday's blaze also caught on fire, according to the chief, and working smoke detectors were the reason those residents were able to get out safely.

Free smoke detectors: He said city firefighters had installed smoke detectors in that home prior to the fire.

The York City Department of Fire & Rescue Services has a free smoke detector program for city residents. Firefighters will come to residents' homes and install working detectors for free, according to Michaels.

To request the free service, or to learn more about the program, call the department at 717-854-3921.

Assisting York City crews at the scene were firefighters from York Area United Fire & Rescue, North York, West York, York Township and Dover Township, Michaels said.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.

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