There was no information on injuries, said Kathy Matheson, communications director for the Philadelphia Fire Department, who told CNN there was a collapse but could not confirm an explosion at the building on South 8th Street.
Mike Dimatties and a friend said they were in a building one block away from the blaze when they thought their roof had collapsed, they told CNN affiliate KYW. A door in the building blew open and they rushed outside to see people running.
“I really hope nobody died,” Dematties said after discovering the nearby building collapse. “I hope they got them out. It felt like an earthquake.”
News footage from the scene showed firefighters spraying water on the building as plumes of white smoke rose over a row of tenements. Firefighters could be seen battling the blaze from nearby rooftops.