SUNBURY - Seven people were left homeless when fire caused extensive damage to an apartment building in the 500 block of Line Street near Kramer Avenue Thursday morning.

But Trisha Herrick was nonetheless thankful for the efforts of first responders in saving her cat.

"God is still good," she said as she watched firefighters smash out windows on all three floors of the large house in attacking the blaze. "I would especially like to thank the fireman and policeman who helped save my cat. I understand they had to chase the cat around the whole house before being able to rescue it."

The cat rescuers were Brad Wertz, who serves as battalion fire chief in the city, and Sunbury Patrolman Travis Bremigen.

Approximately 40 firefighters were pressed into service for the 10:45 a.m. two-alarm blaze, which was brought under control in about an hour.

None of the occupants was inside and no injuries were reported.

Sunbury First Assistant Fire Chief Russ Wertz, Brad's father, said the blaze started in a second-story bedroom at 528 Line St. inhabited by Herrick and her husband, Michael, 30, and their two daughters, Trinity, 3, and Piper, 8 months.

"Flames were shooting out the side window when fire personnel arrived," Wertz said. "The fire then worked itself into the eaves and up to the attic on the third floor."

He said the second and third floors sustained heavy fire damage, while the remaining areas of the apartment building sustained mostly smoke and water damage.

Believed accidental

Wertz said the fire is believed to be accidental. He said State Police Fire Marshal Kirk Renn from the Milton barracks will inspect the scene this morning in an attempt to determine a cause.

Also left homeless were Brandon Hunt, 20, of 530 1/2 Line St. (upstairs apartment), and Herrick's brother-in-law, Travis Corey, 24, and his wife, Olivia, 25, of 530 Line St.

Michael Herrick, who has owned the apartment building for 1 1/2 years, has insurance on the property.

He was at Fort Discovery near the Sunbury YMCA with his daughters when the fire broke out. His wife was working at Weis Markets Corp., Sunbury.

Hunt was visiting his mother in Sunbury when he was alerted about the fire. Travis Corey was working at Your Building Center in Sunbury, while his wife was working at Target in the Monroe Market Place in Hummels Wharf.

Neighbor spots fire

John Rager, 53, of Millville, who was visiting his daughter and son-in-law, Jasmine Coup and Sidney Wayne Coup, of 532 Line St., and their friend when the fire broke out, said his daughter spotted the fire first and alerted them to get out of the home.

"Everyone escaped safely and fortunately nobody was home next door," he said.

Russ Wertz said ammunition, rifles and pistols were found in one of the apartments next to 528 Line St., but firefighters were able to protect them from the fire and prevent a possible explosion.

The fire chief commended all the personnel who responded. He said a second alarm was sounded for more manpower due to the time of the day the fire struck.

Battling the blaze were fire and emergency personnel from Sunbury, Northumberland, Shamokin Dam, Upper Augusta Township and Shamokin.

Firefighters remained at the scene until approximately 12:30 p.m.