The Reading Fire Department is continuing to investigate the cause of a fire that damaged what appears to be an illegal rooming house, officials said Wednesday.
On Tuesday shortly after 11 a.m. firefighters rescued two residents and several pets from the fire at 407 Elm St., said city Fire Marshal Jeremy Searfoss.
Firefighters quickly located the fire at the rear of the building in the first-floor kitchen and controlled it in about 20 minutes, he said. A neighboring home at 405 Elm St. sustained only minor water damage, he said.
“The guys made quick work of it,” Searfoss said.
Firefighters found two residents who had fled the rowhome onto a third-floor roof, Searfoss said.
“They were in a safe location, and we monitored them until we could get extension ladders set up to get them down,” he said.
The two residents were evaluated by ambulance personnel and refused treatment, he said.
Six people were in the home at the time of the fire — five who lived there and one guest. Four got out of the home before firefighters arrived, he said.
They are now staying elsewhere, he said.
Crews also rescued a variety of pets, including birds, dogs, a cat and an iguana, Searfoss said.
There were two garden hoses inside the home that someone was apparently using to try and put out the flames, but Searfoss stressed the importance of calling 9-1-1 right away when there is a fire and escaping the structure.
The fire was called in by a firefighter from a county department who was leaving a store near the home and noticed it, Searfoss said.
The building was condemned due to the fire damage that Searfoss estimated to be about $15,000, and also because it appears to have been converted into an illegal rooming house without the proper fire safety measures, he said.
The property is owned by Dario P. Abreu, according to Berks County property records.
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