A five-alarm fire raged through a Kensington factory building Monday night, forcing evacuations of neighboring residents while firefighters struggled to control the stubborn blaze. Families from more than 10 houses in the 1900 block of East Letterly Street were directed to Kensington High School for shelter, said Deputy Fire Comissioner Ernest Hargett.
No injuries were reported. Power was cut around the building for the safety of the firefighters, leaving large swaths of the neighborhood in darkness.
The fire was reported at 6:51 p.m. in the 1900 block of East Hagert Street, Hargett said. The second alarm was struck five minutes later and a third at 7:02 p.m.
For about two hours, firefighters only had limited access to shoot water into the main factory building and some adjoining structures.
The windows and doors were sealed on the Letterly side of the building, so most of the water was directly from Hagert.
The Fire Department struck its fourth and fifth alarms shortly before 9 p.m. as the fire tore through the roof. The overhead openings allowed department to pour more water into the building.
About 150 firefighters battled the blaze, Hargett said.
The building was originally the home of a dye works for the thriving textile industry in the area, a longtime resident explained. It was later used for the manufacture of windows and doors. Most recently it was used mainly for storage of vinyl windows, steel doors, and wooden frame, Hargett said.
The Fire Marshal had spoken with the owner and the cause of the fire was under investigation, Hargett said.
Residents watched through the night as another remnant of Philadelphia's industrial heyday was reduced to a charred hulk.
Maggie Attica, who lives on Letterly Street facing the factory, said she saw smoking seeping out the cracks of the building at 6:50 p.m. and immediately called 911.
About 45 minutes later, police came and told her that she and her family needed to evacuate. She was planning to leave anyway.
"Oh, my God, my whole upstairs was full of smoke," she said.
Written by The Philadelphia Inquirer
Courtesy of YellowBrix - YellowBrix