Local/State

4-alarm fire in Levittown was accidental, officials say

Saturday, July 27, 2013
Flames tore through the Racquet Club Apartment complex in Levittown, Bucks County.

Authorities have not released an official cause but say the 4-alarm fire that tore through a Levittown apartment complex was accidental.

The fire began just after 9:00 p.m. Friday at the Racquet Club Apartments. The flames quickly tore through Complex B's horseshoe building.

More than 150 firefighters from Bucks County and New Jersey responded.

"As quick as we could get crews there, the fire ran past us," said Fire Marshal Jim McGuire.

Action News was there Friday along with Erin Mullen and her boyfriend Angelo Aquaro who helplessly watched their home burn.

Aquarro says he is thankful they got their pets out, thanks to a knock on the door from one of the several boys who alerted neighbors.

"The little boy screamed 'Fire! get out!' I ran outside to see what happened and to see how big it was. I thought he was kidding but he definitely was not kidding because the fire was huge," said Aquaro.

"My oldest son said there's smoke coming from daddy's apartment," said Theresa Norton.

That would be apartment B-20, Norton's ex-husbands home.

Hugh Mckavanagh received 2nd and 3rd degree burns trying to get to the couple's son 15-year-old Taylor.

Taylor, who is developmentally challenged, was trapped but made it to a balcony.

"The one neighbor Carl came over and said 'Taylor if you don't jump off the balcony you are going to burn,' so he jumped but his arm hit the balcony that was melting and he has second degree burns on his arm," said Norton.

Norton says McKavanagh was released from the hospital but Taylor is still being treated for his burns.

Two firefighters were also sent to the hospital and released overnight.

The blaze was brought under control after 11:00 p.m. but was knocked up to 4-alarms for relief crews to come in from New Jersey.

Building B has 43 apartments, almost all of which were damaged and mostly second floor units were destroyed.

The Red Cross moved quickly to help the more than 80 people who lost their homes and possessions.

Then came some good Samaritans, people who normally focus on the homeless in Philadelphia, who made a detour.

Corinne Ritzheimer brought food and clothing. She says her mission is to distribute donated items she collects.

"Our house is known, you will see bags in front of it., they go to Mark's garage and every Saturday morning we just go out," said Ritzheimer.

It's a requirement of the apartment complex for everyone to have renters insurance, which will help ease the loss.

"Some fire damage as well. Everything is lost, everything is lost," said Gary Fralin.

Adriana White lost her wedding ring in the chaos but the next morning she found it just outside her apartment.

"I started looking around in a corner by a neighbor's door and I found it," said White.

However one young bride-to-be wasn't so lucky.

"Centerpieces, bouquet, flower girl basket, I had everything done - all gone," said Tara Paff.

Meanwhile the fire remains under investigation and a chain link fence has also been set up to secure the premises.

Anyone interested in donating to the fire victims can visit RedCross.org.

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pennsylvania news, bucks county news, fire, local/state
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