Fire chief: 13 people displaced in York City blaze

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch

Thirteen people from three families were displaced when fire damaged their multi-unit York City home, officials said.

Firefighters were called to the 200 block of North Queen Street at 1:18 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 6, according to York City Fire Chief Chad Deardorff.

"The front half of the third floor was completely engulfed in flames," the chief said.

The residents of the three-unit apartment house were already outside when firefighters arrived, Deardorff said, and crews were able to keep the flames from spreading.

No one was hurt, according to the chief.

Firefighters use a fire escape to access the third floor of a multi-unit building at the corner of N. Queen Street and Chestnut Street, Tuesday, August 6, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

It took crews about 40 minutes to extinguish the fire, which crews had under control in about 20 minutes, Deardorff said.

The blaze was caused by an electrical malfunction near a window air conditioner on the third floor, he said.

Although flames were stopped at the third floor, the entire building sustained smoke and water damage, Deardorff said.

13 people, 1 dog: Five adults, eight children and one dog were displaced, he said.

The American Red Cross' Greater Pennsylvania Region chapter is assisting the displaced families, according to Red Cross spokeswoman Lisa Landis.

The dog will be cared for by the York County SPCA, she said, as part of an agreement the Red Cross has with the shelter to temporarily house pets of fire and disaster victims.

Landis said the Red Cross generally provides financial assistance to victims of fire and other disasters in the form of client assistance cards, which allow people to make their own decisions about shelter, clothing and food.

"It provides them a little bit of autonomy ... a little bit of dignity," Landis told The York Dispatch.

The Red Cross also provides fire victims with comfort kits that contain toiletries and other hygiene items, she said.

Deardorff said he expects residents will not be able to return to the apartment house for some time, but he said it can be repaired.

He estimated damage at $60,000 for both the structure and its contents.

Deardorff said neighbors in the block did what they could to help, including providing translation between fire officials and a resident of the burning building, who spoke no English.

Fire crews quickly contained a working structure fire at the corner of N. Queen Street and Chestnut Street, Tuesday, August 6, 2019.
John A. Pavoncello photo

Tuesday's heat and humidity did not become an issue because fire crews put out the blaze so quickly, according to Deardorff.

Hot temps, heavy equipment: Had the fire been worse, he said, he would have called in more manpower to give him the ability to switch out firefighters and let them rest and cool off.

Full turnout gear including portable breathing apparatus, which protects firefighters in burning buildings, weighs about 75 pounds, Deardorff said. Even without the breathing apparatus, the gear weighs about 60 pounds, he  said.

"It's quite a bit of weight," especially in the heat of summer, he said.

Assisting York City firefighters at the scene were firefighters and equipment from West York and from York Area United Fire and Rescue, Deardorff said.

— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.