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Woman helps neighbors to safety as rowhome fire displaces 12 in South Philadelphia

Woman helps sister and neighbors to safety after fast-moving fire in South Philadelphia
Woman helps sister and neighbors to safety after fast-moving fire in South Philadelphia 02:13

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Fire ripped through several rowhouses in South Philadelphia overnight. Now families are trying to figure out how to move forward.

The fast-moving fire tore through at least five rowhomes and left a lot of damage.

The rear of a home is now gutted. We're told some homes could take up to six months to repair.

"It was really scary, yeah," Brianna Costello said.

Security video shows a ball of fire in the sky and sparks going everywhere after flames ripped through at 4th and Greenwich Streets just before 2:30 a.m. Wednesday and waking up the neighborhood.

"Just heard dogs barking honestly and that's what woke me up and brought me outside," Costello said.

Photos from the Philly Fire Department show the blaze tearing through a home and flames shooting through the roof.

"I was sleeping and I thought a thunderstorm was happening," Grace Fletcher said. "I heard crackling, really loud bangs I guess and I went back to sleep and I rolled over and there was flames coming through my window."

As Grace Fletcher woke up she looked outside and was shocked startled to see the massive fire.

"I ran to my sister's room kind of scared," she said. "I told her there was a fire, our house was on fire."

"I thought it was a kitchen fire," Ellen Fletcher said.

She quickly realized they were in harm's way.

"I ran to her bedroom and the whole thing was engulfed in flames," Ellen Fletcher said. "And then we ran out of the house and got our neighbors up."

Grace says her sister banged on every door she could then rushed to cross the street behind them to help get every neighbor to safety. 

As crews arrived, the Philly Fire Department called it an "all hands response." About 60 firefighters worked to quickly get it under control in about a half hour.

Now as crews board up windows, Ellen says she is grateful no one was hurt despite all the damage.

"It's scary it's scary," Ellen Fletcher said. "I feel a type of way so I can only imagine what my neighbors are feeling."

CBS News Philadelphia

At least five homes are damaged. Costello's home has minor damage.

"I just feel bad for my neighbors. I got lucky I think," Costello said. "They're the ones unfortunately going through it."

There were other neighbors helping neighbors. We're told one woman made sandwiches for the dozen people forced out of their homes.

Kathryn Calhoun took in some of her neighbors whose homes were damaged.

"They were upset outside so I was just trying to do what I would want other people to do for me," Calhoun said.

Authorities say 12 people are now displaced. They're either staying with friends or family as fire officials continue to investigate a cause.

Fire displaces several in S. Philly 01:39
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