‘‘Both houses across the street were on fire, basically, just rubble on fire,’’ he said.
The Ables and about 200 other people evacuated from the neighborhood were taken to a nearby school. Some who had been sleeping arrived in their pajamas with pets they scooped up as they fled. Others had to leave their animals behind, and police said later in the day that they were trying to round up those wandering through the area and find their owners.
Most evacuees eventually left the school to stay with relatives, friends or at hotels.
The relief operation was later moved to a church just a few blocks away, where residents could find supplies including blankets, shoes, diapers, canned goods and even a teddy bear.