Firefighters doused hot spots Thursday after a towering fire ripped through a luxury apartment complex built on the once blighted riverfront and left 375 people without homes.
The fire — so big its effects showed up on TV weather radar — began in a building under construction Wednesday afternoon and quickly spread to occupied sections of the $51.8 million Riverwalk at Millennium project in this Philadelphia suburb.
Only minor injuries were reported, but the blaze destroyed 125 units that housed 375 people, authorities said. Two buildings were destroyed and three others damaged.
More than 300 firefighters from a 20-mile area fought the eight-alarm blaze late Wednesday.
T.J. Dougherty, 25, who lives in a fourth-floor apartment in one of the buildings, watched his home burn. "My whole life is in there," he told The Philadelphia Inquirer. "I have nothing left."
The Red Cross provided shelter at a nearby fire station for an estimated 200 displaced residents not staying with friends or family. A hotel and a nearby apartment complex also offered rooms.
The blaze broke out shortly before 5 p.m., snarling rush-hour traffic on Interstate 76 and halting service on a nearby commuter rail line for hours. Heat from the blaze created an atmospheric disturbance visible on weather radar.
Montgomery County Public Safety Director Tom Sullivan said the complex is located between railroad tracks and the Schuylkill River, making it hard for firefighters to reach. The first apartments were rented in May 2005.