Christmas lights hanging from a front porch were nearly all that was left after a Friday morning blaze destroyed a multi-family home in York City's west end.

Hector Cosme stood across the street from the three-story duplex at the corner of West Locust Street and South Sheridan Street as firefighters continued to clean up. He was still wearing his pajamas and slippers, describing what it was like to rush from the flames that engulfed the upper floors of his house at 836 W. Locust St.

"We just got whatever we could, took our phones and dog, and left as fast as we could," he said.

Cosme, 36, and his wife, Marlyn Cosme, 38, and their four children, Hector, 16, Ezebriel, 11, A.J., 3, and Josiah, 2, and their miniature poodle all made it out of the home safely, he said.

A York City firefighter cleans debris from a duplex at 836 and 838 W. Locust St. The property was gutted by a fire gutter Friday morning.MORE PHOTOS
A York City firefighter cleans debris from a duplex at 836 and 838 W. Locust St. The property was gutted by a fire gutter Friday morning.

(Randy Flaum)

He was also thankful his neighbors were safe.

"You can replace material things, but you can't replace a life," the elder Hector Cosme said.

The three-alarm fire likely started in the neighboring unit at 838 W. Locust St., where three adults and four children were displaced, according to Greg Halpin, York City's deputy fire chief. A total of about a dozen people were forced from their home by the fire.

No one was hurt, he said.

Firefighters were called to the fire at about 6:50 a.m. and worked for about a half hour before the blaze was extinguished, Halpin said.

A cause hadn't been determined as of 11 a.m. Friday.

An urgent call: Milagros Orr, 36, said she and her teenage daughter, Jessina Orr, had left their home at 838 W. Locust St. early Friday morning to get coffee at a nearby Turkey Hill convenience store. While there, Milagros Orr received a call from her 12-year-old son, Jamie Orr, who said there was a fire.

Knowing her son was also inside with her daughter's boyfriend, her 9-year-old nephew and newborn granddaughter, she told them to get out as fast as they could.

When Milagros Orr arrived back at the home, she saw flames and ran into the house, screaming for her family.

"I called their names, and nobody answered. I was so scared, but luckily they had already made it outside," she said.

Now, both families said it's time to rebuild.

"You just have to start over," Hector Cosme said. "I'm going to try and keep my family safe and explain to my kids that we will get through this, that we will have to be strong."

It's not the first time the Cosme family has had to start over. In 2007, a fire destroyed their former home at 325 E. King St.

"Most of the things we lost in this fire are things that were given to us after the last one," he said.

- Candy Woodall can also be reached at