Flames poured out of an apartment building in Emporium just after 10 o’clock Tuesday night. “We don’t have to we don’t have a place to go. We don’t have a place to call home,” says Paula Berry, through the tears.
Victims inside were recalling the moments they woke up to smoke filling their apartments. Berry calling it a nightmare, “I remember the seeing the flames come through the back door and the smoke and we took off running down the hall.”
Fire officials say the apartment building housed at least seven families. WTAJ is told the fire spread quickly because of its construction. Emporium fire chief, Adam Johnson, says it was a balloon frame constructed building. “Once the fire gets into it’s framing it has a tendency to spread to the rest of the building,” adds Johnson.
Crews were called back to the scene of the overnight East Allegheny Avenue when it reignited Wednesday afternoon. The back porch severely damaged. Fire officials are ruling it an accident, started by a single cigarette.”We had to smoke outside either on the back porch or in front of the apartment building. You just never think about it,” adds Berry.
The Emporium native lived in the apartment for the three months. She says her first instinct was to make sure everyone made it out safely. “I started beating on my uncles’ door who lives downstairs to give him and my aunt out bc she’s in a wheelchair,” says Berry.
Fire officials say the house is a total loss. About a dozen people, including children, are displaced. They are being helped by the red cross.