Roofs collapsed as a fire tore through an apartment complex in the Brookhaven section of Delaware County Tuesday evening.
Firefighters rescued several people from the complex located in the 5200 block of Hilltop Drive. Many of the residents slept at the homes of friends, relatives or at a nearby shelter after their belongings were destroyed.
One resident, an artist, could only save his pet bird, a painting and his portfolio from the inferno.
"After the police got me out, I saw flames coming up through the ... top floor," Jim Gallagher said. "My wallet is in there. The keys to my car are in there. Everything I have — it's my life's work."
The flames whipped through the night air and could be seen from down the block while neighbors poured into nearby streets. Still, firefighters managed to rescue a family trapped on the third floor.
"We could feel the heat by the door," said neighbor Dianne O'Donnell. "I shut the door and we could smell the smoke inside."
Firefighters remained on the scene looking for hot spots and attempting to prevent water from their hoses turning into ice.
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It could take three to five days to determine a cause of the fire, officials said.