Pa. Apartment Fire Injures 14, One Cop

LEWISTOWN, Pa. --

News 8 went insided a burned apartment building where 14 people, including a police officer, were injured early Monday morning in Lewistown, Mifflin County.

About a dozen windows in the building are knocked out, where fireighters gained access to fight the blaze or save residents. The fire started around midnight at the Elsessers Apartments on the 100 block of South Main Street. It's a 28-unit complex near the center of town.

Of the 14 people who were injured, six were kept overnight in the Intensive Care Unit at Lewistown Hospital. The most severely injured suffered burns, smoke inhalation and other injuries.

A police officer hurt his arm in the fire. News 8 was told that he was treated and released.

The fire burned apartments on the third and second floor of the complex. One resident said he woke up to the sound of sirens and saw thick black smoke in his apartment. He was able to escape.

About a dozen windows on the building are broken, indicating where volunteer firefighters from several companies broke the glass to gain entry to fight the fire and evacuate residents. Some residents, such as Michael Vitunski, had to be pulled out of third-floor windows using a ladder truck.

"Just glad we survived -- that's all," said Vitunski.

About 50 people were displaced. Most of them are either staying with family or the Red Cross.

On Monday officials investigated the building, checking to see if supports needed to be bolstered. Only a few residents ventured back inside to see if they could salvage anything. By late Monday afternoon, restoration crews were entering the building to begin the long process of cleaning up.

There is no word on what caused the blaze, but officials are fairly certain the fire started on the second floor.

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