5 Hurt, 100 Displaced in Northeast Philly Apartment Fire

At least five people were hurt and over 100 residents displaced after a massive fire ripped through a Northeast Philadelphia apartment complex.

The four-alarm fire started in the basement of the Rita Grace Manor apartment complex on the 9100 block of Academy Road around 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, working its way up through the walls and across the building.

"I could just see the smoke coming from my apartment and as I got closer I saw the flames," said Willis Jones, a resident who was walking home with his 6-year-old son. "It was just crazy."

Strong winds made it difficult for fire crews to fight the flames.

"The fire began to spread through the third floor because of the wind conditions," said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer.

More than 100 people were evacuated and transported to a shelter at Lincoln High School on 3201 Ryan Avenue.

"I've never seen anything like it," said Donna Elliott, who lives across the street from the apartment. "This is the most devastating thing I've ever seen in my life." 

While the blaze was placed under control around 8:20 p.m., firefighters continued to pour water onto hot spots late into the night.

Jones told NBC10 the fire destroyed photos of his mother, who died three years ago.

"I can replace the couch, the table and the bedroom furniture," Jones said while on the verge of tears. "But her pictures? I can never get them back. You know, one of a kind things. Never get them back." 

Five people were taken to the hospital and treated for minor injuries. Academy Road is currently closed at Convent Avenue due to the fire.

Officials continue to investigate the cause.

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