Police and fire crews were dispatched to an apartment building in Lower Providence Township on Thursday for a large fire and reports of an explosion, officials said.
A code enforcement officer for the township reported to a home in the Eaglestream Apartments for a follow-up inspection just before 1 p.m., according to Lower Providence Township Police Chief Michael Jackson.
There, the officer was confronted by a resident, who displayed a handgun and threatened him. When police arrived at the scene, the resident ran back inside and “multiple, loud explosions” were heard from within the building, Jackson said.
A fire broke out soon after and spread to two nearby homes.
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The resident who threatened the code enforcement officer has not been identified, and police were uncertain Thursday afternoon if he was still inside the burning building.
One person sustained minor injuries as a result of the fire, and has been taken to a local hospital for treatment, Jackson said.
As firefighters battled the fire, heavily armed SWAT officers and other police personnel arrived at the scene Thursday afternoon.
County officials initially issued a shelter-in-place order for surrounding homes and businesses, but it was later lifted, and Jackson said in an afternoon news conference that there was no danger to the public.
Patrick and Dina Baine live near the homes that caught fire, but were not home when the trouble started, they said as they stood, hours after the blaze broke out, in a shopping center parking lot.
They were with three of their children and a few neighbors, all stranded by the lockdown order issued by police. Even after it had been lifted, Patrick Baine, 43, was leery about taking his family home.
“I hear they lifted the lockdown, but they also said they haven’t captured him yet. So, we’re like, ‘Do we really want to go home?’” the second-grade teacher asked.
His wife called the incident “completely unheard of in this area,” and said the episode had their entire neighborhood on edge.
“We have never seen anything like this,” Baine said. “We’ve had ambulances in the neighborhood when people are sick, but nothing involving a SWAT team. Nothing involving bomb units.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.
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