One person was rescued from a four-alarm fire at a row home in Lancaster city Saturday night.
The fire was reported shortly before 11:30 p.m. The initial address was given as the 500 or 600 block of West Orange Street but first-arriving fire units saw the blaze nearby at 631 Marietta Ave.
City fire Lt. John Musselman said flames were visible inside and outside the home when crews arrived. Initial reports were that a woman might still be inside but firefighters searched the home and quickly determined that she had escaped onto the roof.
Mervin Gonzalez, 31, a tattoo artist who lives with his fiancee on the first floor of 627 Marietta Avenue, said he was visiting a neighbor and when they stepped into his backyard saw the fire and a woman with a sooty face at a second-story window.
“She was screaming ‘Help, help, fire!’” he said.
Gonzalez, who had been a volunteer firefighter for four years in Brooklyn, New York, told the other person to go call 911. Meanwhile, he was able to talk the woman — whose name he doesn’t remember — out of the window and onto a rain guard below it, where he told her to stick out her legs and then helped her to the ground.
“She told me 'Thank you'," he said. “She was crying.”
Gonzalez said this wasn’t his first fire rescue, and that he was glad and proud to be able to help this time. After the rescue, he said, neighbors watched with concern as crews battled the fire for hours.
Musselman said the fire started to the rear of the home, igniting the vinyl siding and traveling up the side of the house and into the roof. Flames ran through a common roof space and into two adjacent homes but was contained to the roof area in those structures.
The fire was placed under control between 1 and 1:30 a.m.
Musselman said damage to the 631 property was estimated at $80,000 to the structure and $10,000 to contents. He estimated loss to each adjacent home at $10,000. The cause of the fire remains under investigation by a state police fire marshal.
Musselman said at least three families were displaced by the blaze.
Gonzalez said his apartment appeared to have only smoke damage but said they were told to stay out for a couple of days. He said the American Red Cross gave them funds to stay in hotel until they could return.
No injuries were reported. Fire units remained on the scene until 10 a.m.
The Lancaster blaze was one of several fires reported in the county overnight, including a two-alarm house fire in Martic Township reported shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday and a fire in an outbuilding said to be filled with ammunition and kerosene reported in Warwick Township a couple of hours later.
The American Red Cross reportedly is assisting two adults and a child from the Martic Township fire.