Two fires on Sunday night destroyed a pair of Lexington Avenue houses and a downtown commercial structure containing antiques vehicles.
Occupants of two houses, including a family of five, were left homeless Sunday night after fire spread through the structures on the 300 block of Lexington Avenue.
Houses at 301 and 303 Lexington Avenue were engulfed in flames when firefighters arrived and set up to keep the blaze from spreading to the neighboring 305 Lexington Avenue.
Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec
A fire on the 300 block of Lexington?Avenue late Sunday engulfed two homes and left occupants at both residences displaced. The blaze broke out about 8:30 p.m.
"We contained the fire to these two houses," Altoona Fire Chief Tim Hileman said.
The cause, he said, will be under investigation.
Neighboring residents reported the blaze around 8:30 p.m.
"I heard an explosion and came out on my porch," neighboring resident Larry Garvey said. "I could see the fire back there, between the two houses."
The family who lives at 301 Lexington Ave., Raymond Ronk and Melissa Benson and their three children including a two-week-old baby, were at a picnic on the 200 block of Lexington Avenue, Ronk's mother, Alma Ronk said.
"We heard the bang," said Ronk's brother, Beau Davis.
A woman who lives at 303 Lexington Avenue was home when the blaze started. She got out but became distraught so her boyfriend took her to the hospital, neighbor Diane Garvey said.
Hileman said one of the firefighters suffered heat exhaustion and was taken to the hospital where he was reported to be in stable condition.
The Blair County chapter of the American Red Cross was called to assist the families.
Firefighters took about two hours to extinguish the blaze and reported it to be under control at 10:30 p.m.
Fifteen minutes later, firefighters were being directed to a structure fire at 18th Street and 13th Avenue.
There, they found a three-story commercial brick building ablaze. Inside were at least two antique automobiles owned by Lee Papadeas.
Papadeas, according to Mirror story files, lost three classic cars in a December 2010 fire that were in a garage along Rose Alley, between 16th and 17th streets.
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.