As the charred remains of 13 rowhouses smoldered yesterday, the Red Cross was helping seven families displaced by a devastating fire Saturday night in the Cobbs Creek section of the city.
No one was seriously injured, fire officials said.
Residents of Cedar Avenue near 58th Street were coping as family and friends helped neighbors salvage what was left of their belongings, and as a stench of smoke hung in the air.
Officials had blocked off the houses that were hit the hardest by a fire that began shortly before 11:30 p.m. Those houses were recognizable yesterday by piles of blackened rubble and shattered window panes.
Fire officials said the blaze began in a house in the middle of the block. The fire grew to a second alarm by 11:30 p.m. and a third alarm by 11:53 p.m. Executive Fire Chief Daniel Williams said that no one was seriously injured; however, two women and a man were transported to Mercy Hospital with unspecified injuries.
Williams said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
According to Jennifer Lee, manager of public relations for the American Red Cross, the organization was assisting seven families - 17 adults and four children - displaced by the fire.
Bitsy, a neighbor who asked that her last name not be used, stood across the street from her house, which was damaged in the blaze. "I just heard people screaming," said Bitsy, who was on her porch as the scene unfolded.
Once Bitsy saw that the fire was spreading, she grabbed her elderly grandmother, put her in the car and drove to safety.
As the winds whipped the inferno from house to house, an electrical box caught fire, Bitsy said.
Cops swarmed the street, kicking in doors so they could carry residents to safety, Bitsy said.
"All I was saying to myself the entire time was, 'Please just let my grandmom be OK.
"All of the people that have been on this block have been here forever and now they have to try to get back what they lost," she added. *