ASHLAND -- Several row homes were damaged when fire broke out in a Schuylkill county community Thursday afternoon.
The fire started after 1 p.m. on Center Street in Ashland.
Firefighters said three row homes were damaged and one belonged to the Ashland fire chief.
10 fire companies were called in to battle the fire that investigators say started on a mattress on the second floor of this home.
"In that front bedroom at 402, that fire was rolling, as far as there coming out the windows," said Ashland Assistant Fire Chief Charles Orth.
This fire was intense, in part, because it was spreading quickly, but also because it was spreading to the home of the Ashland fire chief right next door.
"They did an extremely good job at knocking this fire down, extremely," said Ashland Fire Chief Philip Groody.
It took firefighters about 40 minutes to get the fire under control, many of them apologizing to the chief because they were not able to keep the fire away from his home.
"Last week it was my 46th year of being a firefighter," said Chief Groody. "You always fear the day will come. Living in a row home in Ashland, it is one of your biggest fears. Thank God there was nobody home. We were all working. Now it is time to pick up the pieces and rebuild."
The chief actually owns two homes next to each other. The fire damaged the home he lived in but stopped just before reaching the home where he keeps his prized collection of toy trucks -- a collection worth about $40,000.
14 people will now need new places to stay. Most had insurance and are being helped out by the Red Cross.
UPDATE: On Friday, a fire marshal said the fire was started by a child with a lighter.