4 homeless after house fire in city

Two families were evacuated from a double home, 630 Fifth Ave. after the attic caught fire Sunday.

Cory Blee was in one half of the double home with a woman and three young children when he heard the fire alarm go off just after 5:30 p.m.

“We were confused … had absolutely no idea what set it off,” Blee said.

In a flashing first instinct, he tried to shut the alarm off.

“I was trying to pull the thing down to shut it off when the kids came in from outside saying the house was on fire. Sure enough, it was fire.”

The smoke from the fire on the third floor attic spread down through both sides of the house pretty rapidly, Blee said.

When he ran up toward the third floor, he saw a chair on fire.

“I turn around to head down to get some water and all of a sudden I can’t see anything,” Blee said.

He fell down the flight of stairs, but then rushed to the kitchen to get water.

When he tried to get to the attic again, the smoke was too thick. “It wasn’t worth it,” Blee said.

Blee said there were four people living on the other side.

Williamsport, South Williamsport and Old Lycoming fire departments arrived at the scene about 5:45 p.m.

Nearby residents were out on the streets spreading an entire block, but the smoke was so thick it could be seen from as far as the highway.

Kevin Shuhler lives in Montoursville and was heading east on I-180 when he saw the smoke.

“I was down near the Maynard Street bridge and could see heavy smoke all the way from the interstate,” Shuhler said. “It was pretty clear it wasn’t just a burner barrel. It was very thick, black smoke.”

Although it took about 15 minutes to put the flames out, fire fighters stayed on scene for another hour to circulate air through the homes and clear the rooms of smoke.

At 6:45 p.m., the American Red Cross was called to find temporary housing for four of the victims living on the other side of the home, according to the 911 dispatch. Thier names were not available as of press time.