Investigators trying to learn what caused fire that left 13 people without a home

Robert Diaz said he almost went to sleep when the smoke alarm on the top floor of his building. He said the alarm saved his life. “I got lucky,” Diaz said. “I got outside, alive.” When his smoke alarm went off around midnight, Diaz looked out his window and saw the smoke billowing up. “When I opened my front door, there was already a fire,” Diaz said.

At that moment, he rushed to the back side of his apartment, climbed out a window and escaped. He immediately called 911. “Crews went in and did an aggressive search and attacked the fire,” York Fire Chief David Michaels said. “Everybody was out. We were able to confirm that, everybody was out of the home.”

Chief Michaels said investigators have not figured out the cause of the fire and are not ruling out foul play. Thirteen people, including a mom and her four kids lived in the building. Nobody was hurt, and Diaz was the only one inside when the fire started. “I lose everything,” Diaz said. “The only thing I have is my car. All my clothes, everything, is all gone.”

Diaz said the American Red Cross put him up in motel for three days as well as giving him $160 for clothes and food. “That helped me out,” Diaz said. Red Cross spokeswoman Kathy Smyser said most of the work her group does is with people who lose their home to fires, and it has been a busy month. “In the very first week of July, we had sixty five people displaced by fires in Central Pennsylvania,” Smyser said.

Smyser said last year alone, the Red Cross helped more than 1,700 people just like Diaz. “Right now, I got to work hard again so I can get everything back,” Diaz said.