after the fire

514 Pottstown Pike was the scene of a horrible fire August 7th, 2019. I wrote about it.

We went by the location a few times this weekend and I captured these (poor) photos as a passenger in a car.

The photo that gets me is the first one posted. There is a child’s cart on that “deck”.

What happened to the displaced people?

What will be happening to these structures?

Who inspects these rental properties in Chester County and how often? Is it done at a local level or a county level?

civilian bravery followed by questions in the wake of yesterday’s fire on pottstown pike.

Ginny Kerslake photo.

This morning the Daily Local has an article about a vicious fire that could have been deadly yesterday along Pottstown Pike/ Route 100.

Daily Local: Firefighters battle apartment fire in Uwchlan

By Pete Bannan Pbannan@21st-Centurymedia.com 7 hrs ago Comments

UWCHLAN — Fire erupted at an apartment house in the 500 block of N. Pottstown Pike Wednesday.  

Lionville Fire Company was dispatched just before 3 p.m. for the report of a possible subject trapped in the former two-floor motel annex.

Firefighters reported heavy fire on the second floor of the building….The cause of the fire is under investigation

I think at least FIVE fire companies responded. And given HOW busy 100 is, many, many kudos to the first responders because that is difficult location no matter how you slice it. I am also told access to this property is somewhat dicey? I wonder if they could even get fire trucks across the little driveway bridge off Route 100 that I am told crosses a creek there? People say it’s not great?

The reporter/photographer for The Daily Local is someone I have known for years. He covers a lot of fires and one time he covered a house fire next door to where I lived many years ago. I will never forget that fire because the firefighters had to work so hard to keep the flames engulfing an old Victorian house owned by an absentee landlord from jumping to the roofs next door, including my own.

What the reporter/photographer doesn’t mention is a selfless local Chester County resident who stopped to help BEFORE first responders arrived on scene.

And I am NOT saying this as a chide, I am not sure anyone knew. But I know so I am going to tell you.

The person who stopped and risked her own safety was my friend, Ginny Kerslake. Yes, the same Ginny Kerslake who ran for Chester County Commissioner in the recent Democratic primary this past spring that the Chester County Democrats chose NOT to endorse. (And yes THAT is most decidedly a dig at the flawed endorsement process of a major political party.)

This is what my friend Ginny shared with us yesterday shortly after the fire erupted:

Avoid route 100 just north of Township Line Rd.

As I was driving past I saw black smoke and then the flames. Called 911 and banged on the apartment doors right next to the house to alert residents. A woman used my phone to call the woman who lives in the house – luckily she was out somewhere but her husband who smokes may be inside where the fire is. I really hope he’s not. First responders on scene. It’s frightening to see.

I left once there was nothing for me to do but get out of the way. I’m home now hearing lots of sirens and hoping for the best for everyone there.

Ginny acted in a selfless and heroic manner in my opinion. She put herself in danger to try to help others before first responders arrived.

Ginny is a modest woman and doesn’t seek accolades or personal glory for the amazing things she does. However, yesterday what she did was brave and heroic and she deserves our praise and thanks. In a world where so much is ugly, I am honored to have a friend who truly will put her own needs and life aside for the greater good. Ginny exhibited a selfless act of bravery in the true spirit of community.

I don’t think Uwchlan Township even realized what she did.

That above was the Uwchlan Township Police Department press release post incident. They obviously did not realize that Ginny Kerslake was in part responsible for getting people out of the structure(s).

I remember yesterday when PulsePoint reported the incident. They said “commercial structure” so I was not sure where they meant.

You undoubtedly have driven past this now fire location before if you are traveling Route 100.

The above photo with the arrows is one I shared in the fall of 2017 when a billboard was being proposed for the derelict and boarded up farm market or whatever it is next door. I used the arrows to remind people of not only the location on Pottstwon Pike/100 but also the proximity to the location which had the fire yesterday.

And this location is what was once known as the Dogwood Motel. Now it appears to be apartments of some sort. And this location once again represents the very limited supply of “affordable housing” in this part of Chester County. Like the mobile home parks we see scattered about including in townships in close proximity like East Whiteland and further away near or in other municipalities like Wallace Township, Honeybrook, Phoenixville, and the Downingtown areas, the old Dogwood Motel represents a very limited supply of affordable housing.

And as Chester County continues to get bombarded with new developments, the affordable housing supply continues to dwindle. And we are not simply referring to section 8 housing, we are referring to low income housing for those of modest means in all categories including our elderly who live on fixed incomes in a lot of cases. With all of this new development, taxes and rents increase often pricing life-long residents quite literally out of their homes.

No, I am not being a drama queen, it’s true. And people of low incomes and modest means are the invisible people society doesn’t wish to see.

This location at 514 N. Pottstown Pike is run down and has been for years. A search through Chester County records indicates the property is owned by people who seem as if they lived locally at one time, but now reside in Florida. I am not positive but if I am reading old deeds correctly they bought it possibly in a Sheriff’s sale decades ago? Here is are screen shots from Chesco Views:

The Daily Local indicates there is some sort of investigation post-fire. That is normal. Of course other questions would now include if the property owners are the equivalent of absentee landlords who is responsible for day to day maintenance on this property? And who at a township level and county level is responsible for seeing that this structure and other low income rental properties are safe and up to code?

It is thanks to first responders and ordinary people like Ginny Kerslake who is not a first responder that no lives were lost.

But what happens now to all of the residents who call this location home? I can’t answer that question but myself and many others are wondering.

If anyone does any LEGITIMATE fundraisers for the residents here, please post a comment on this blog’s Facebook page.

But for the grace of God go any of us in a situation like this.

Ginny Kerslake photo.

april 15, 2019: the day notre dame de paris burned

Photo courtesy of my sister, who literally visited Notre Dame a few short weeks ago.

I was 14 when I saw Notre Dame. A visit to Paris at the end of a summer trip to Strasbourg through I a local historical society- I think at the time it was a historical society in Valley Forge but it has been so many years.

Photo courtesy of my friend Jane

On this trip it was teenagers with chaperones and while in Strasbourg we lived with families. That is how I made my life long friend, Marie Claude.

Photo courtesy of my friend John

When in Paris, we stayed in an old but respectable hotel near Gare De L’Ouest and my friend blew the fuses when she plugged in a hair dryer. They were definitely not luxury accommodations but to a bunch of kids it was cool!

Photo courtesy of my friend Jane

Now here is a personal fact you wouldn’t expect from me I think: I may be well read, but I am not necessarily well traveled. I have not been to Europe since I was a teenager. Life has just not happened that way.

Photo courtesy of my sister and taken March, 2019

I do remember being in Paris and being overwhelmed because it was so big and busy. I remember doing things like stopping in a grocery for a baguette and cheese and fruit with my friend Lizzie and seeing Notre Dame and part of Versailles.

Photo courtesy of my friend Jane

I do have a bucket list of places I would like to see now that I’m older, but I hadn’t put Paris on it. Maybe I should now. A great deal of my bucket list surrounds the United Kingdom. I want to visit all the gardens I’ve read about and been inspired by over the years, and I want to go to wild places like the Shetland Isles, visit the Highlands of Scotland, see Haverfordwest and parts of Wales, and visit Ireland.

Photo courtesy of my friend John

Notre Dame is indeed a structure and a place which has figured prominently in a sense over the lives of so many people. The centuries of history and what Notre Dame has seen and survived, art history classes, the very symbol of it if you are Catholic.

Notre Dame is just iconic.

Photo courtesy of my friend John

Yesterday to most in the US was just another tax day. Well, maybe not just another tax day because thanks to our current president’s great “tax incentives, tax plans” it was kind of chaotic. And miserable. But that’s not for this post.

I remember I was standing in my kitchen and I had asked Alexa what the news was. I literally dropped a glass in the sink when I heard Notre Dame de Paris was burning.

Photo courtesy of my friend John

When I first turned on the TV all the US channels of major networks had game shows and the equivalent on air. So I turned to the BBC channel for news and pretty much remained riveted there for hours.

BBC: Notre-Dame: Massive fire ravages Paris cathedral

Notre Dame has survived centuries of war. Only on April 15, 2019 it has nearly burned to the ground. The news this morning is good, and already money is being raised for her restoration and rebuilding. But I can’t help but wonder all that has been lost while I marvel at the miracle of what was saved.

BBC: Notre-Dame fire: Millions pledged to rebuild cathedral

Here we are in one of the holiest weeks of the year. Are we supposed to learn the lesson that with endings there are new beginnings once again? I don’t know. But I have photos taken by my sister and my friends Jane and John to share with all of you. Enjoy the majesty that is Notre Dame de Paris and say a prayer for her restoration.

Photo courtesy of my friend John

barclay friends neighbors sent me photos

I was visiting a friend in Chester County Hospital today and remarkably, you can smell the smoke from the fire inside the hospital. It’s crazy. It was like someone had a fire in their fireplace.

I have friends who live in that part of West Chester and they have smoke infiltration in their homes. I am only publishing a couple of photos, but there but for the grace of God go all of us.

Other friends of ours (as in a couple of different families) had family members evacuated from Barclay Friends last night. Their family members are safe and sound elsewhere.

Another friend who has been on the scene texted that the fire was not completely out.

Neighbors of Barclay Friends are among the scores of unsung heroes who helped residents to safety. Some media outlets are saying not all are accounted for? (See this report from ABC News ):

Authorities struggled on Friday to account for the whereabouts of all the residents of a Pennsylvania senior living community after a massive blaze tore through their complex during the middle of the night, injuring nearly 30 and leading to a chaotic evacuation.

West Chester Mayor Jordan Norley said Friday afternoon that a few of the more than 130 residents of the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community, located west of Philadelphia, were unaccounted for following the huge fire.

“We’re hoping for the best obviously here,” said Norley, who put the number taken to area hospitals at 29.

Officials said fewer than 20 remained hospitalized and all were in good condition.

County emergency officials said there was the possibility someone could have died in the fire, which erupted late Thursday night. But a spokeswoman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which was on the scene, told an afternoon news conference that no relatives had reported any family members missing.

Some patients are at Chester County Hospital. These people have lost everything. Especially photos and memories. It’s devastating.

At West Chester nursing home fire, a heroic effort to evacuate residents
by Laura McCrystal, Justine McDaniel, Tricia L. Nadolny & Emerson I. Max, INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS

Flames Rip Through Chester County Senior Living Community Displacing 150 Residents and Staff, Hospitalizing 27-The senior residents of the facility were evacuated into the bitter cold, and while more than 20 people transported to hospitals, officials did not elaborate on any injuries
By NBC10 Staff

The ATF was on scene this afternoon as well, so that should help people get answers, right?

It has been a very long day in the Borough of West Chester. On the eve of Thanksgiving I am grateful for all those neighbors, fire fighters, and EMTs and police who responded to this. I am told by friends that we can always drop off food or snacks to these volunteer fire companies. These men and women do this day in and day out.

Have a good night, all.

prayers for barclay friends

Most of us in Chester County woke up to those devastating news. Barclay Friends in the Borough of West Chester went up in flames as many of us, myself included, were sleeping. I have a friend whose mom was there, thank goodness she is now home and safe with her family. There are many, many displaced seniors as a result.

It is the eve of Thanksgiving and I think we must be grateful for the absolutely amazing first responders we have in Chester County. Firefighters, EMTs, police, and so on. I am not one to toss around the word blessed lightly, but we are so blessed with these heroic individuals because this could have been so much worse without their expertise and valor.

Daily Local : At least 20 injured, 100 flee into night as fire roars through West Chester senior living center (Photos)

Prayers go to the families with displaced seniors and the staff of Barclay Friends . I am happy to post legitimate fundraising efforts one Barclay Friends gets this sorted out to where they can do that. I am also happy to post efforts of groups who will be collecting clothing and other basics for these seniors. And if someone is planning to get Thanksgiving dinner to these displaced seniors.

These senior citizens could be anyone’s family members, and at least one is a family member of a friend.

I will admit I am so terrified at how fast Barclay Friends went up in flames. All media reports this morning indicate fire investigation is already beginning.

Also, and VERY important: you will note my photos come from social media. I am not going anywhere near that scene and neither should any curiosity seeker. Let the professionals do their jobs and stay out of the area in the Borough of West Chester.

Prayers up on this.

malvern area family needs christmas miracle

It’s Christmas- let us show this family the true meaning and help – I do not know them- it doesn’t matter because this could happen to any of us – saw this on Malvern Community Forum and decided to share.

Let us show the Zografakis family the miracle of Christmas 🎄❤

Here is their story off of the GoFundMe page:


Again, this could be any of us so please pay it forward.  

Thanks so much!

https://www.gofundme.com/zografakis-family-fund

And The Daily Local wrote about this so people know this is real.

Dog rescued from two-alarm house fire
By: Pete Bannan (pbannan@21st-centurymedia.com)

POSTED: Thursday, Dec. 22, 2016 – 5:16 p.m. 

WILLISTOWN TOWNSHIP >> Goshen firefighters rescued a dog from a house fire on Ridings Way in the Hunters Run development of Williston Township Thursday.


Nobody was injured in the fire, which seriously damaged the home.


First arriving police reported fire from the raised deck and rear of the home.

Goshen Fire Chief Grant Everhart said the fire went to two alarms.