4-Alarm Fire in Pennsylvania Damages Four Homes

The fire in York damaged four homes and displaced 10 residents. Nearly 60 firefighters battled the blaze for nearly two hours.

April 30--Thomas Shortlidge said that just after 3 a.m. Tuesday, he was sleeping when he heard a noise outside and someone yell "fire."

Shortlidge, along with wife Cathy Cramer, and a friend who was staying with them, Barbara Hinton, ran out of the home at 1215 W. Poplar St., carrying their four birds, two dogs and one cat.

"I wasn't so upset at first," Shortlidge said, having endured two fires in York in the past. "I'm more concerned about the emotional damage to my very close neighbors. They're very close friends of mine, almost family."

Those neighbors, who gathered with Shortlidge and his family at the West York Reliance Fire Company on West Market Street later that morning, did not want to speak about the fire, according to an American Red Cross representative.

The four-alarm fire, which began at 1211 W. Poplar St., damaged four homes and displaced 10 residents, West York Reliance Fire Chief Ed Washington said.

Nearly 60 firefighters spent almost two hours battling the blaze,

"We had heavy flames coming out of the third floor of 1211 West Poplar," Washington said.

Crews rushed into the row homes and blasted the flames, but because of the intensity and volume of the fire, it spread to 1215, 1213 and 1209 -- the other homes in the four-home row.

"We went to a fourth alarm because of manpower ... that time of the morning, with volunteer departments, manpower is hard to come by," Washington said.

Although intermittent, "Good, strong gusts of wind were pushing it (the fire) around a bit," Washington said.

He said that a Pennsylvania State Police fire marshal, along with West York Police, were investigating.

At the fire station, residents spoke with the Red Cross representatives and ate food provided to them. Shortlidge, Cramer and Hinton sat among them.

Shortlidge said that once he found out about the fire, and yelled to Hinton to leave, she hesitated at first.

"I was trying to get my medicine; I was trying to get my cat," she said.

Hinton eventually came down because the smoke was so thick, she couldn't breathe, she said.

Shortlidge then called Cramer, who was at work.

"All I heard was him yelling, and I told the supervisor, 'I got to go,'" Cramer said.

Tiffany Toomey, who lives nearby the row homes, said she was lying down when she saw the fire's reflection on the homes across the street.

Toomey gathered her four children and her mother and raced outside. They were allowed to return to their home around 6 a.m.

Although the fire did not damage her home, it shook her up, she said. "Way too close for comfort."

Copyright 2014 - York Daily Record, Pa.