Just two days before Christmas, five people in Lancaster were forced out of their homes by a fire.
It happened around 9 a.m. Monday on the 300 block of South Prince Street. Three people were home at the time but escaped unharmed.
“We wanted to cook breakfast. I went out to the store to get our breakfast items. I get a call from my husband. He's like that's not important right now. You need to come home right away. The house is on fire,” fire victim Penny Keys said.
Keys rushed home.
“First thing on my mind was my kids 'cause of the way the smoke was coming out. Everybody's like your kids are fine, they're down there. Ran to my kids, hugged them, was looking for my husband. Everyone was out. That's all I was worried about was my kids.”
Firefighters worked fast and kept the flames from spreading to the adjoining home. But the damage to Keys' home is extensive.
“The house is gone. That was our life,” she said.
Firefighters said there were two working smoke detectors in the house, but that is insufficient because the city recently upgraded the standards.
“You have to have a working smoke detector on every level of the dwelling and in every room that's used as a bedroom,” said Captain David Longenecker with the Lancaster City Bureau of Fire. “They have to be 10-year lithium-powered non-replaceable batteries. or they have to be hard-wired.”
While firefighters spread the message and try to figure out what sparked the blaze, Keys and her family have to figure out where to go from here.
“We have family and friends that are willing to help us. It's gonna take some time to get back on our feet but we'll get there. With the man above we'll get through this,” said Keys.
In Lancaster, firefighters will provide and install smoke detectors free of charge to home owners. For more information, click here.