Collegeville residents were able to safely escape their East Ninth Avenue home as a fire started to rip through the residence shortly before 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 29.
However, after firefighters doused the flames, the house was destroyed and the family pets, a dog and a bird, had died.
"We were just watching TV," said homeowner Charles Ballard said in a quiet, stunned voice. "Our cocker -- who died -- started barking," and then Ballard saw a rear, outside wall ablaze. Ballard said he had been out in the garage earlier and thought he smelled smoke, but didn't think much of it.
Chief Jeffrey Wentworth said the fire grew quickly. He estimated he arrived at the scene perhaps two-and-a-half minutes after getting the call, and he saw flames about "20 feet high" coming from the 200 block house.
The official cause of the blaze was still under investigation as of 10 p.m. Saturday, according to Wentworth.
Firefighters worked for about an hour, knocking down the majority of the blaze and then quenching the smaller fires that were breaking out around the residence and in the garage. Smoke continued to billow into the air more than two hours after the fire started.
, , , Mont Clare, Royersford fire companies, as well as members from Harleysville, Skippack and EMS also responded to the scene. Fire police directed traffic away from East Ninth Avenue; crews re-opened the road shortly after midnight Sunday. Wentworth said three firefighters, respectively, were treated for smoke inhalation, a sprained ankle and a possible asthma attack.
Ballard said he and his wife would be staying with family Saturday night, and then come back to their home Sunday morning to figure out where to go from here.
Additional photos on Philly Fire News.
Fire officials are continuing to probe the circumstances of a fire that broke out in a home in the 200 block of East Ninth Avenue in Collegeville shortly before 7:30 p.m. tonight.
At least two residents were home at the time. They were able to safely exit the home; their animals -- a dog and at least one bird -- died.
The fire engulfed the residence, and flames could be seen from about a half block away. Firefighters continued to battle smaller blazes even as the majority of the fire was knocked down.
Patch will update this story this evening.