Over a dozen people displaced after fire roars through multiple West Philadelphia homes

A fire quickly consumed a string of row homes in West Philadelphia on Tuesday, putting over a dozen people out of their homes. 

Velice Hids, who lives on the 200 block of North Hobart Street, says she smelled smoke and heard a loud smack before running to the window to see where the startling noise could have come from. As soon as she looked out her window, she says she saw flames shooting from the row home across the street. 

"It was jumping from house to house. I never saw anything like that in my life before," said Hids.

Reacting immediately, Hids ran across the street and began banging on the door of her 91-year-old neighbor, Theresa Pope, who lives alone and right next door to where the fire started. 

"It was scary. It was scary. I broke out a window. I just wanted to make sure she wasn't in the house, that's all," said Hids. 

Luckily, Pope had gone to lunch with her daughter, Carol, who had been visiting. Unfortunately, though, Pope says she lost everything as her house of 50 years went up in flames. 

"When I came and looked, I said, ‘Oh my God, everything in my house got burned up.’ Everything I own is in that house. You can't replace stuff that you have," said Pope. 


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Fire officials say close to 75 personnel were on scene battling the fire, which started just after 1 p.m. The fire was placed under control after 2 p.m., giving the flames just enough time to impact 10 homes and displace 16 people. 

Carmella Muchison, another victim of the fast-moving fire, says she's devastated by the damage, but she's thankful no one was injured. 

"I don't like not being able to be in my own house to stay," said Muchison. "That's the hardest part, but I'm glad everybody is okay."

No injuries were reported as a result of the fire, officials say. The Red Cross of Philadelphia also responded to the blaze and the Disaster Action Team says they assisted 14 people on scene.

Fire officials say they do not know what caused the fire, but they are actively investigating what could have triggered such a fast-moving and destructive fire.