A Chester County woman is accused of starting a massive apartment fire over the summer that injured seven people and left 100 residents homeless.
Toni Kirk, 30, was arrested Tuesday and charged with causing or risking a catastrophe, aggravated assault, simple assault, recklessly endangering another person, criminal mischief and false reports - falsely incriminating another.
The three-alarm fire started at the Ashwood Apartments on 782 Worth Boulevard in Pottstown around 7:20 p.m. back on July 30. A resident told Telemundo 62's Isabel Sanchez that the fire began in a single unit before it quickly spread.
The fire destroyed the entire roof and the building was evacuated with multiple people rescued. Witnesses said at least one person was rescued from the third floor.
"It was popping like fireworks exploding," Oscar Brunner, a neighbor, told NBC10. "Something was fueling it.”
SkyForce10 was over the scene as huge flames and plumes of smoke rose from the building.
Three firefighters and four residents were taken by ambulance to hospitals for injuries. At least one firefighter could be seen being taken away on a stretcher.
Firefighters were eventually able to bring the flames under control. The Chester County Fire Marshal ruled the fire incendiary. About 100 residents in all were displaced and the fire caused at least $5 million in damage.
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"While no one, fortunately, lost their lives in the Ashwood Apartments fire, the long-term impact on these people and their families is devastating,” Chester County District Attorney Deb Ryan said. “They lost their homes, their belongings, and their sense of safety."
First responders said they spotted the fire within apartment 315 on the third floor of the building when they arrived. Kirk was later identified as a tenant inside that unit who was present at the time of the fire. Witnesses also told investigators Kirk was the only person seen leaving the unit on the third floor just before the building’s alarms were activated.
During an interview, Kirk told investigators she was present during the fire but accused another person of starting it, according to investigators. Police later determined however that the person Kirk accused was not at the apartment at the time of the fire. Investigators also determined the fire started inside Kirk's living room on or near a bed or mattress.
Kirk is currently in custody at the Broome County Sheriff’s Department in Binghamton, New York, and awaiting extradition back to Pennsylvania.
Anyone with more information on the fire should call the North Coventry Township Police Department at 610-323-8360.