LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) — Multiple row homes that were condemned due to a “geological anomaly” caught fire in Lancaster on Monday evening, fire officials say.

Over 20 first-response teams were sent to the 500 block of North Plum Street around 5:45 p.m. after getting reports of a fire at a residence.

“We have 10 row homes affected. The last two of the row homes were the only homes that were occupied. Those families are being assisted,” said Fire Chief Todd Hutchinson of the Lancaster City Bureau of Fire.

Four adults, two children, and two pets were displaced due to the fire.

Neighbor Savannah Shelton was at work just across the street when the fire started in the row homes.

“It went from a tiny little bit of smoke coming out the window to it engulfed the house up top,” Shelton said. “[The smoke] surrounded all the windows, you could barely see outside, it was that thick.”

Shelton also lives just down the street from the damaged row homes which made the fire a potential threat for her.

“My fear is the embers catching something on fire,” she said. “It was a scary situation, a lot of people were worried.”

Chief Hutchinson said the fire posed a unique challenge for first responders.

“We do not make entry into condemned buildings. Obviously, there is a structural or interior problem, and for our firefighters’ safety we do not make entry into those buildings,” Hutchinson added.

The fire was on the same block where eight row homes were condemned, one in 2017, the other seven by inspectors in 2019, displacing 17 residents from seven homes.

Lancaster Mayor Danene Sorace says the city plans to investigate the condemned buildings further.

“We will have a look and have our building code officials out to do a structural assessment. We will then make a determination about the future of these homes,” Sorace said.

According to a statement released by the City of Lancaster, the eight condemned properties were all privately owned and had been condemned at three different points.

One of the homes was under construction following a previous condemning in 2017. The home under construction was condemned again in 2019. This occurred after six of the adjacent homes were condemned in August of 2019 due to “structural issues caused by a geological anomaly.”

Another home was condemned in August of 2019 for raw sewage discharge into the rear and side yards of the property, not due to geological anomalies.

The City of Lancaster stated that they secured and fenced the properties. This work was completed in 2019 by the city and maintained over time.

According to the City of Lancaster, in September of 2019 a structural condition assessment of the buildings was performed, as well as a microgravity survey and radar scan of the area to determine the “subsurface geological anomalies.” Private owners of the homes also paid for their own studies of the cause of the anomalies.

This anomaly spans across several private properties and according to the city in 2019, meetings were facilitated to help property owners develop a solution for the anomaly.

Property owners have been working to remedy the issue and once the fire investigation and structural evaluations are complete, the City of Lancaster says they will determine an immediate course of action.

Shelton said she has always been worried about something like this fire happening in the condemned homes, and she hopes they will finally be torn down.

“They should have taken care of this a long time ago,” she said. “I think it’s causing a lot of chaos and issue with something that could have been avoidable.”

According to abc27’s media partner LNP, more than 2,750 customers were without power at one point in the surrounding area.

The American Red Cross of Greater Pennsylvania is assisting the four adults and two children who were displaced.

It is unclear at this time what caused the fire, or which row home the fire started in.