Angie Luchetta, who lives in an apartment next door to the house, said she smelled smoke about 5 and went onto the back balcony, where she saw flames shooting out of the neighboring building.
Luchetta, who called 9-1-1, was at home with her 15-year-old son, Eric. She yelled from the balcony to see if anyone was next door, then she and her son went to check on 80-year-old Richard Bucks, who lives in the apartment below them. They got him out of the building and waited for firefighters.
"There were four dogs next door, but the neighbors weren't home and we couldn't get in to save them," Eric Luchetta said.
Several birds that also were in the house escaped unharmed.
Pastor Caballery, who owns the house where the fire started and has lived there for seven years with his girlfriend, Betsy Rosa, said he was picking her up at work when a neighbor called and told him his house was on fire.
By the time they returned to the block, the fire had spread to the second floor and was threatening the neighboring houses. Police and firefighters had closed the street.
Lt. Jeremy Searfoss of the city fire marshal's office said the fire apparently started at the rear of the house on the first floor. Flames were shooting out of the back of the house and black smoke was billowing from the roof when firefighters arrived, he said.
Firefighters rushed into the house, searched for anyone inside and worked to control the blaze.
They had it under control in about 30 minutes.
The cause of the fire is under investigation, Searfoss said. He estimated damage at $30,000.
The houses at 1741 and 1745 Centre sustained minor damage, he said.
"The guys (firefighters) did a good job," Searfoss said.
Several people were temporarily displaced but planned to stay with friends and relatives.
Written by Reading Eagle
Courtesy of YellowBrix - YellowBrix