Nearly all of the 71 people displaced by an early Wednesday morning fire in their Welsh Road apartment building found places to stay that night.
No one was injured in the two-alarm fire at the Atrium apartments on the 2500 block of Welsh Road, said Executive Fire Chief Richard Davison.
The Red Cross housed only one family Wednesday night at the Red Cross House in West Philadelphia, said Red Cross spokesman Dave Schrader. All of the others were able to stay with family or friends.
Davison said the alarm came in at 5:47 a.m. Wednesday and that firefighters found fire and heavy smoke on the building’s fourth floor. A second alarm was sounded shortly after 6 a.m., he said. The fire, which was concentrated on the fourth floor of the building, was under control by 7:10 a.m.
Residents were bused to the Robert Blair Pollock School about three-quarters of a mile away, where, said Schrader, about a dozen Red Cross volunteers provided food and water, and worked with the residents on housing arrangements.
Outside the Pollock School, Joanne Tsikelas, a fourth-floor resident, said the building’s fire alarm went off after 3 a.m. during a thunderstorm. Residents gathered in the lobby while the building was checked, and then were told they could return to their apartments.
It was about 90 minutes later, she said, that firefighters banged on her door to tell her to get out of the building.
Colleen Adair, another fourth-floor resident, said the hallway was full of smoke when she left.
Firefighters did respond to that earlier alarm at the building and saw no sign of smoke or fire, Davison said.
One resident said he had heard a lightning strike had sparked the fire, but Davison said Wednesday afternoon that a cause had not been determined.
On Wednesday, Schrader had said the Red Cross came prepared with a truckload of cots to set up in the school if more than 10 people needed shelter. If a slightly smaller number had required housing help, they would have been put up in motels.
Hours after the fire was out, some residents were allowed back in the building to retrieve medicines, Tsikelas said, but those whose apartments were heavily damaged were not permitted back, she said. ••EndFragment