Five Stowe row houses were gutted by a fast-spreading, early- morning fire that left about 15 people homeless.
"The fire woke me up. There was something that sounded like a gunshot, and I saw that the kitchen was full of smoke," said Mark Gingel, who lived in one of the row houses on Russellwood Avenue.
The fire broke out at about 5 a.m. when a woman who lived at 927 1/2 Russellwood was cooking chicken fingers on her stove, said Marty Jacobs, chief of the West Park Volunteer Fire Department in Stowe.
"She tried to control the fire for a while and then threw water on it, and that made the fire worse," Jacobs said.
Before long, that home was engulfed in flames and heavy smoke. The fire then started to spread to other homes through a wooden back porch shared by the five homes.
"These homes have a common roof and wood frame porches. Once …