Row Homes Ravaged

SHENANDOAH — While the Schuylkill County community of Shenandoah is no stranger to fires, the one that damaged nine homes early Saturday morning was still jaw-dropping.

The fire started on West Coal Street and jumped from house to house, moving around the corner to Jardin Street. The damage was so extensive that even eight hours later, investigators were uncertain which home the fire started in, or how many people were living in the burned buildings.

“One of our worst ones we have had in the borough in several years. We have had some real bad fires. However this one ranks up there being one of the bad ones,” said Rick Examitas, Shenendoah Fire Marshal.

It took scores of firefighters from across Schuylkill County to finally get the flames under control.

“You could see the flames above the roofs and everything. The smoke was filling the streets,” said Edward Chowanes, who lives nearby.

Officials say two people were injured and taken to the hospital, one was rescued by ladder. There was also a woman who jumped out a window.

Connie Quijano-Velaquez had a friend inside who lost everything but his life.

“I was calling and calling and calling, and got woken up so I was scared, and I got a hold of him finally. I asked him ‘Did everyone get out ok?’ He said it was a struggle, but they got out, and they are all doing ok,” said Quijano-Velaquez.

Lois Reichwein lives right across Jardin Street and knows what the victims are feeling. In 2011 fire damaged her home and destroyed the two houses next door, leaving a gap in the block.

“When you don’t have anywhere to go it’s really frightening,” said Reichwein.

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