Cecil Township fire chief explains how flames spread so quickly in fire that destroyed 4 townhouses

CECIL TOWNSHIP, Pa. — Four townhomes were destroyed by intense flames on Wednesday in Cecil Township.

We first brought you this story as it was breaking on Channel 11 News at 5 and 6 p.m. on Wednesday.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE >>> 4 townhouses destroyed in Cecil Township fire

Since then, Channel 11′s Cara Sapida spoke with Noel McMullen, the Cecil Township fire chief. She found out what allowed those flames to spread so quickly.

Fire investigators spent the day sifting through the charred remains of a garage where they believe a fire started. It’s rekindled twice since then.

PHOTOS: At least 4 townhouses catch fire in Cecil Township

“Homes just aren’t built like they were years ago. These particular houses were not sprinklered, which we really promote having our multifamily dwellings protected with sprinkler systems,” said McMullen.

While fire investigators determine what caused this horrible fire, McMullen says the building materials commonly used in construction today are part of the reason it quickly spread.

“It’s just the lightweight construction, the structural components aren’t what they used to be,” McMullen explained. “A lot of the components are literally pieces of wood that are glued together for support beams and steps and things like that. It’s very dangerous for us.”

Chopper 11 footage showed fire trucks lining the street and hoses spraying water from every direction.

McMullen told us the response was massive, with departments across Washington and even Allegheny County helping as flames burned intensely with people inside.

“When we arrived, surprisingly, neighbors had actually helped everyone get out of the structures,” McMullen said.

We first showed you on 11 at 11 that first responders shook Ed Kramer’s hand.

He’s the neighbor credited with rescuing multiple people, including an elderly woman he feared wouldn’t hear people shouting to exit.

“When I saw it was this unit, I knew our friend’s mother was in there and she’s almost completely deaf,” Kramer told Channel 11 last night. “God put me in the right place at the right time. Happy to do it.”

A GoFundMe has been set up for everyone impacted by this fire. Click here to donate.

Download the FREE WPXI News app for breaking news alerts.

Follow Channel 11 News on Facebook and Twitter. | Watch WPXI NOW

Comments on this article