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2 Suffer Life-Threatening Injuries in Reading Apartment Fire

The two people were found unconscious on the third floor

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Two people were hospitalized in serious condition Monday morning after being rescued from a 4-alarm fire in Reading, Massachusetts.

Fire officials said crews responded to the fire in an apartment building at High and Washington streets around 3:30 a.m.

"They started banging on the doors somewhere around 3, maybe a little after," resident Ron Steenbruggen said. "Fire was coming out the windows and then some on the roof, so it was burning pretty good in there."

Resident Jack Jansen said the heavy smoke made it difficult to escape.

"I went back down the back hallway. I couldn't see anything, though," Jansen recalled. "I took a deep breath before I left my apartment, and down the stairs I went."

Two people were found unconscious on the third floor of the building and taken to a local hospital. Fire officials said their injuries are believed to be life-threatening.

Officials said there are no working sprinklers inside the 12-unit apartment building but it does have an alarm system. 

"Firefighters were able to knock down the fire inside the unit. They also had to search the entire building, evacuate the entire building," Reading Fire Chief Greg Burns said.

All other residents were safely evacuated. It is not clear when they might be able to return to their homes.

The American Red Cross has been called to assist the residents of the building.

"The Red Cross is involved, and they gave us vouchers to go someplace tonight to sleep," Jansen said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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