Cressona, PA- ANDREA T. TURANO, Republican Herald – Fire that gutted an apartment building Sunday evening left several people homeless.

Five regional fire companies responded to the call at 11 River St. shortly after 7 p.m. and fought the blaze for an hour before bringing it under control.

One of the residents, Amber N. Zimmerman, said she had just arrived home when she realized what happened. “Two of our propane tanks blew up,” she said. Zimmerman lived in apartment No. 2.

The landlord, who declined to provide his identity, said only that two of the building’s four apartments were rented. He would not say how many residents resided in them. Other building tenants also declined comment.

Richard J. Dronick Sr., chief of Cressona Fire Company, the first at the scene, said the call came over initially as a working structure fire with entrapment.

However, it turned out that no one was inside at the time, he said, adding no one was injured. A dog was rescued from the building, he said.

According to Dronick, the fire originated downstairs, apparently following an explosion, and worked its way up toward the attic area.

“It could have been a possible gas leak,” he said. “Someone could have left the stove on, or an appliance or a propane tank itself may have had a leak,” he said.

The exact cause of the fire won’t be determined until a fire marshal investigates the scene today, Dronick said.

When Charles J. Dombrosky, chief of Good Will Hose Company, Cressona, arrived on the scene, the building was engulfed by heavy smoke pouring from the roof.

Liberty Fire Company, Schuylkill Haven; West End Hose Company, Pottsville and Rainbow Hose Company, Schuylkill Haven, all supplied aid, he said.

A neighbor, Linda M. Maberry, of 31 Pottsville St., said she came home from a baseball game when she heard a “big bang sound” and her husband decided to call 9-1-1. “We ran over to see what happened. I saw the windows and doors blow out on the first floor,” she said.

“You knew it was gas or something because it was just so very loud. You knew something was really wrong,” she said.

She said she didn’t see the smoke or flames until 10 to 15 minutes after hearing the loud bang.

Susan H. Miller, also of Pottsville Street, said she was gardening at the time when she heard the explosion. “All of a sudden there was a big boom. I thought there was a car hitting something,” she said. The next thing she knew, firetrucks arrived at the site.