No one was seriously injured in a fire that struck the 1900
block of Fairview Avenue late Friday night in the Willow Grove section of
According to Abington Fire Marshal Ken Clark, fire crews first got the call at about 11:30 p.m., but by that time, the fire had already made “significant headway.”
Clark said the blaze started on the porch of one half of a large, 3-story, twin home. The occupants of the home — five younger men, who were renting the house — all evacuated safely. The other half of the twin was vacant.
“It was a rather intense fire,” Clark said. “Because of the interviews [with the tenants] we know that the fire originated on the porch. The men said they could see smoke coming in through the front windows; one of them was on the second floor of the house, and the others were on the third floor.”
Because the originating house was about 100 years old, and constructed mostly of dry wood, Clark said the fire spread quickly to neighboring buildings.
“The next twin up, on the north, one of the residents said he was on the second floor and actually saw fire dripping down onto his window-mounted air conditioner,” Clark said. “It was his siding that was melting from the radiant heat.”
It took firefighters several hours to get the blaze under control; there were about 100 firefighters on the scene from the Abington, Cheltenham, Upper Moreland and Upper Dublin fire departments.
“In houses that are 100 years old, once fire penetrates an interior or exterior wall, the fire can go from the first floor to the roof in a matter of minutes because of the wood lath construction. This was a very labor-intensive job because we had to get to the guts of the building.”
Clark said the cause of the fire is still under investigation,
but added that there was a rocking chair and a sofa on the porch that added to
the fire’s intensity. And though the fire was significant, Clark said everyone
was lucky that there was no wind that night, which would have helped spread the
Ten residents sought the help of the American Red Cross immediately following the fire; Clark said about 10 more people asked for assistance the following day.
Originally posted Sept. 9 at 12:46 p.m.