Neighbors helped rescue a boy who was asleep inside a burning home Wednesday evening in Columbia.

Ashley Weiler was sitting with her young son in her living room when she saw smoke coming from a house across the street just after 5 p.m.

Knowing two children live there, Weiler took off running while yelling to her mother to call 911.

"I guess my mom instincts just kicked in," she said.

Weiler said a girl, who is in fourth grade, was outside. Another neighbor retrieved the sleeping boy, who Weiler said is in sixth grade. The family's two dogs also were rescued, she said.

Once the children were secured at her house, Weiler ran to neighboring homes and pounded on doors.

"I was just running around yelling, trying to get everybody and their pets out."

Weiler said one neighbor, who was at work when the fire broke out, came home to find that her dog had perished in the blaze.

Several people called 911 shortly after 5 p.m. to report heavy smoke and multiple houses on fire in the 300 block of Walnut Street.

Fire crews arrived to find smoke "pouring" from five row homes, according to Columbia Borough Fire Chief Scott Ryno.

Firefighters en route to the scene were told that people might be trapped in one of the homes but a search upon arrival determined everyone had been evacuated, the chief said.

Ryno said the fire started in a second-floor bedroom of a home at 336 Walnut St. and was caused by an electrical malfunction. The boy had been sleeping on the second floor also but in a separate area, Ryno said.

The boy told officials that he was awakened by a smoke alarm and then saw smoke in the home, according to the chief.

Adjacent homes, at 338 and 334, sustained fire damage. Homes at 340 and 332 were damaged by smoke, Ryno said.

A damage estimate wasn't available Wednesday night.

The American Red Cross said Wednesday night that it was assisting 20 residents from six families who were displaced by the fire.

Two firefighters required medical treatment while fighting the blaze.

Ryno said one suffered a minor finger injury and was treated at the scene, while a second was taken to a local hospital for evaluation after feeling light-headed. He was treated then released.

The chief said he wasn't aware of injuries to any of the residents.

Firefighters administered CPR to a dog but Ryno said he didn't know if the animal survived.

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