HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Fire crews were on the scene of a three-alarm fire at the 1330 block of South 13th Street in Harrisburg on Sunday, Dec. 19.
The homeowner, Dustin Najdek, was the only person home at the time of the fire. His wife was at work, and his stepson was at a friend’s house. Najdek was doing laundry and had the dryer running. He left for no more than ten minutes to visit his wife at her place of work. When Najdek came back, he discovered the fire.
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“When I came back the lights weren’t on. There was a fire between the dryer and the fridge up top on the ceiling. There were a couple of other places but mainly right there.” Najdek said.
Fire crews were dispatched at 12:18 p.m. for smoke coming out of the back of the building. When crews arrived, they discovered heavy smoke in the street and fire coming out the back of the house.
“These are 2 1/2 story wood frames. The fire quickly spread because of the construction to multiple houses on both sides of the row, so ultimately we have about six homes that were damaged and four of them heavily in fire quite quickly,” Harrisburg Bureau of Fire Chief Brian Enterline said.
The fire department had to upgrade the fire to a third alarm. This was to get mutual aid partners from the county to get the blaze under control.
“The first in units did a tremendous job trying to push in on the fire. It just overwhelmed us with the amount of fire that was coming out of the back of the building. And it was deep-seated in the walls and ceilings so it was a very labor-intensive operation to get it opened up and get the fire out,” Chief Enterline said.
Najdek thinks the fire could be electrical.
“I feel bad for the people next to us, but I don’t even know what even would’ve caused the fire in our house. Like I said, maybe electric, but I don’t know.”
Najdek rescued the family dog and three of eight cats that were inside the home at the time of the fire. The other five of them did die in the home.
“I seen my dog and I found my one white and black cat, took her out, and then the one cat, the girl cat, we rescued from outside. She followed us. She was all burned up. She’s at the vet. And then there was a cat in the window because we open the front window so they could look out and I was able to lift it up and he got out, but our other five cats, they’re all gone,” Najdek said.
“Any fire is difficult for us and for our residents. Fires during the Christmas holiday are absolutely gut-wrenching to us, especially when you have the Christmas trees and the presents already in place.” Chief Enterline said.
No one else was seriously injured or killed in the fire.