Disclaimer: The city initially announced that 13 people, including seven children, passed away in the fire. However, on Wednesday evening, a spokeswoman for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney updated the numbers to 12 dead, including eight children.
Death touched the city of Philadelphia early Wednesday morning. Authorities say at least 12 people, including eight children, died in a fire that ripped through an apartment building. Emergency personnel also transported two people, an adult and a child, to hospitals to be treated for serious injuries. According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, firefighters and police arrived on scene at 6:40 a.m. local time but the building was already engulfed in flames. Firefighters reportedly spent about 50 minutes getting the blaze under control.
“This is without a doubt one of the most tragic days in our city’s history, the loss of so many people in such a tragic way,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said on the verge of tears. “Please keep all these folks, and especially these children, in your prayers. Losing so many kids is just devastating.”
26 People Living In Two Apartments
The apartment building is located in the residential area of the city’s Fairmount section. Apparently, the building was initially a rowhome until it was converted into a three-story apartment building. The renovated space holds two apartments, but residents can only enter and exit through the front and rear door. Twenty-six people lived in the two apartments with 18 people in one and eight in the other.
City records show Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) has owned the duplex since 1967. Apparently, at least 26 individuals occupied the three-story rowhome. Eight people, who escaped from their home, lived in the apartment covering the ground floor and back of the second floor. Eighteen people shared the second space, which covered the front of the second floor and entire third floor.
Discoveries By Firefighters
While on the scene, firefighters worked quickly to get people out of the burning building. However, Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said “heavy fire” took over the kitchen area of the second floor apartment. It also ran up an open stairwell to the third floor.
“The only thing that was slowing that fire down from moving was…nothing was slowing that fire down,” Deputy Craig said.
Per NBC 10 Philadelphia, firefighters discovered six smoke detectors in the building, but none of them were operational. Kelvin A Jeremiah, PHA President and CEO, said the property received its most recent inspection in May 2021. At the time, each detector was “operating properly,” Kelvin said.
Deputy Craig seemed overcome with emotion as he explained the severity of the situation.
“It was terrible. I’ve been around for 35 years now and this is probably one of the worst fires I have ever been to,” Deputy Craig said.
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