Conshohocken, Pa.—A construction site turned into an inferno Aug. 13, gutting two nearby apartment buildings and leaving hundreds of residents homeless. “More than 300 firefighters from all corners of Montgomery County battled the spectacular fire, which raged for about six hours before crews got the upper hand about 10:30 p.m.,” according to a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The blaze began at the Stables at Millennium construction site at 203 Washington St. Workers using an oxy-acetylene torch allowed molten steel to drop into the crevasses of the unfinished five-story wood-frame building, according to officials.
The Stables at Millennium are just one piece of Millennium, a 60-acre mix of offices, apartments, and shops developed on the banks of the Schuylkill River by O'Neill Properties Group, based in King of Prussia, Pa.
The fire at the Stables construction site spread quickly across what one official called a “lumberyard” of building materials to reach the Riverwalk at Millennium complex next door, which comprises 375 units in four four-story buildings owned by JPMorgan Chase & Co.
Two apartment buildings totaling 168 apartments were gutted by the flames and will be demolished. The other two buildings received little damage. Fortunately no residents were hurt in the blaze, according to building manager Bozzuto Management Co.
The fire burned so fiercely that two fire trucks operated by Conshohocken volunteers were overwhelmed by the flames and severely damaged, though no firefighters were hurt.
The apartments at Riverwalk at Millennium had been almost fully occupied, with several unit types unavailable, renting at prices between $1.44 and $1.88 per square foot. Bozzuto is offering to move displaced residents to vacant apartments in other Bozzuto communities in the area, honoring their current lease terms and supplying these residents with basic furniture. Bozzuto is also working with the local apartment association to find residents new places to live.
“We want to make sure they all have both temporary and permanent places to live,” said Bozzuto spokeswoman Lauren McDonald.