Residents displaced after 2-alarm apartment fire in Old City

The Red Cross is helping residents find shelter after an apartment building in Old City went up in flames.

The fire broke out on the 300 block of North Front Street around 3 a.m. Sunday.

PECO, Philadelphia Gas Works and Red Paw Relief Team were called to the scene, and the fire was placed under control just after 6 a.m.

It took firefighters three hours to get the flames under control and a few more hours to completely douse flare-ups and hotspots. Everyone made it out of the building alive.

Huge flames were pouring out of the four-story apartment building on the 300 block of Front Street Sunday. Responding firefighters who first entered the building were initially beat back by the flames. Crews quickly evacuated three people living in the building and others living nearby.

"It's dangerous conditions for fire department personnel to egress the building. We had to evacuate everyone from the interior to the exterior of the building," stated Assistant Fire Chief Richard Davidson.

The back of the second floor collapsed and that's one of the reasons firefighters were forced out. Crews called the weather a hindrance, with heavy rain soaking firefighters. Luckily, ice was not an issue in the early morning blaze.

"What makes it more difficult is the inclement weather, period. We make sure the firefighters are in their full, protective equipment and we have all the resources to keep us going for an extended operating period," Assistant fire Chief Davidson said.

"The entire street was blocked off. Police cars outside, lights turned on. About an hour later, the electricity went off," said Harry, a neighbor.

Harry lives in an apartment complex just down the block. He woke up to the smell of smoke and a huge emergency response outside his window, with 16 engines and two ladder trucks tending to the two-alarm fire. His heart goes out to the residents who appear to have lost much of what they own.

"I actually walked out from the inside of my building and the Red Cross is apparently there with some of the victims of the fire. They're older folks and it's always sad to see someone's house burn down," Harry said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.