Pottstown apartment building fire sends 5 to hospital | Southeast Pennsylvania

POTTSTOWN, Pennsylvania – Two people are still recovering in the hospital and dozens more are sleeping in hotels after a fire broke out in a Montgomery County apartment building.

This happened in a building that primarily houses elderly and disabled people, so firefighters had to rescue several people inside. The Pottstown Fire Department said it received the emergency call for the Robert Smith Towers just after 6 a.m.

The fire broke out on the 5th floor, where Jeff Piley lives.

“I opened the door and there was smoke everywhere. I couldn't breathe,” Piley said.

“You could smell the fire and the smoke,” said Orlando Rodriguez, who lives on the sixth floor.

Rodriguez said many people are having trouble getting out.

“There are a lot of people there who live in wheelchairs,” said Rodriguez. “Of course, everyone panicked because no one knew what it was.”

Pottstown Fire Chief Frank Hand said about 65 homes had to be evacuated.

“The best way to describe it is that for about half an hour there was chaos as firefighters went from room to room, breaking down doors,” said Chief Hand.

“They started knocking loudly on everyone's doors, like, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom,” Rodriguez said.

“I heard a knock on my door. It was a firefighter telling me to get out,” Piley said. “They took me to the emergency exit.”

However, some people did not make it to the emergency exit and had to be rescued through windows.

“Firefighters had to bring people down ladders and evacuate floors 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9,” said Chief Hand.

The entire building must now remain empty for at least 24 hours. Five people have been taken to hospital, two are still being treated, including the man who firefighters found in the room where the fire started.

“There was a resident in the room who was rescued by firefighters. He was taken to Lehigh Hospital. His condition is unknown,” said Chief Hand.

City and county officials have been trying to find hotel rooms for people to stay overnight while they wait to return to their homes.

Chief Hand told 69 News his department has completed the investigation and will release the results, including the cause of the fire, on Friday morning.

Anna Harden

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