York City Fire officials say East Maple Street Fire unintentional

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YORK CITY, Pa. -- Fire officials say there are suspicious circumstances surrounding the fire that burned down several homes in the 100-block of East Maple Street in York.

Evidence now points squatters using drugs in the vacant house, number 156, with no intent to cause a fire.

Maple Street was one of three fires in one weekend in York City that put a strain on those who serve to help. One at 238 South Duke Street was ruled arson. Another in the 400-block of South George Street was ruled accidental.

Not only were firefighters with the York city Fire put to the test, but volunteers with the Red Cross as well.

Days after a devastating fire struck homes along East Maple Street, one still can clearly see and smell a sense of loss.

Neighbor Gervana Crick said "our clothes, curtains, towels, our beds, and everything was smelling of smoke."

Neighbor Luz Martinez said "a friend of mine, one of them lost a dog too, a puppy, that was sad."

The three fires that struck the city Saturday night, put an even further strain on a department that has a minimum of 10 firefighters on duty at given time.

York City Deputy Fire Chief Chad Deardorff said "we did recall a large number of off-duty firefighters, and officers, to back-fill reserve apparatus to cover additional calls in the city."

It was a night that was a challenge for volunteers with the Red Cross who also had a job to do.

Red Cross disaster program specialist Allen White said "assist our residents that have been displaced by the several fires that we've had this weekend. We were also able to provide support to over 100 firefighters through our cantine services.""

"This isn't affecting just the property that they may or may not burn, on maple street, there are 22 people without a place to live right now," Deardorff said.

There's only one other thing the York City fire fighters can do until investigators find who is responsible.

"Re-hydrate, get some rest, and get ready to get back in the ball game," Deardorff said.

Neighbors say landlords met with inspectors this afternoon and now four homes, two that were vacant and two that were occupied, will have to be torn down.

While the fire may have destroyed part of the neighborhood, it hasn't damaged the spirit of the people who live here.

"We've all been helping each other, food, water, blankets, and whatever they need," Crick said.

"I like to help. I like that God is always there. That's why I'm here for. He sent me here to help," Martinez said.

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