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Monday, January 24, 2022

Philadelphia fire: After Fairmount Rowhome fire, 12 dead including 8 children

12 people have died in a fire inside a Philadelphia Housing Authority rowhome that officials say there was no working smoke detector. Eight children were killed in a fire that broke out on Wednesday morning – the city’s worst fire in more than a century.

Firefighters respond to a three-story rowhome at 869 North 23rd Street in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood at approximately 6:40 a.m. Wednesday. When firefighters reached the spot, they saw strong flames and smoke coming out of the second floor of the house.

Fire officials say the companies started extinguishing the fire, which they brought under control in less than an hour. During the shelling, the crews found that there had been several fatalities.

On Wednesday night, officials confirmed that the fire claimed the lives of 12 people. Officials said eight children and four adults were found dead.

Fire officials initially said 13 people had died, seven of them children, but those figures were updated on Wednesday evening.

Family members say that the age of the victims is between 33 years and 1 year old. They also say that two of the victims were sisters, aged 33 and 30, and that they were both mothers. The sisters each had several children, but it is not clear whether they were all at home at the time of the fire or how many of them died.

Two other victims, including a child, were taken to area hospitals and listed in a serious, but stable condition. According to fire officials, several others managed to get out of the house safely.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney called for prayer Wednesday morning, saying, “This is undoubtedly one of the saddest days in the history of our city.” “Losing so many kids is just devastating.”

The property was owned, operated and inspected by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and was divided into two units and officials say 26 people were living in the building.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said there were 18 people living in the upstairs apartments on the second and third floors, and eight in the downstairs apartments, which included the first floor and part of the second floor.

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Philadelphia Housing Authority officials told Fox 29 that the family had lived at the address since 2011, starting their time in the home with six people. His family expanded, but officials said he did not ask for a bigger house.

When asked whether 26 people was an appropriate number to live in that particular property, Philadelphia Housing Authority officials replied that it was not. A spokesman for Philadelphia’s Department of Licensing and Inspection said the city does not limit the number of family members that can live in a unit.

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The mayor said that people should withdraw the decision.

“You don’t know the circumstances of each family, and there were probably relatives and families who needed shelter,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “Of course there was tragedy, and we all grieve for it. But we can’t decide on the number of people living in the house because sometimes people need to stay indoors.”

Investigators say the house was equipped with four smoke detectors and none of them were operational. Philadelphia Housing Authority officials said the alarms were inspected annually, and that at least two were replaced in 2020, with others having batteries replaced at that time. Officials said the last inspection was in May 2021 and the smoke detectors were working at that time.

SKYFOX was at the scene of the deadly fire later on Wednesday morning. , ,

Meanwhile, many have questioned the absence of a fire escape that could have provided an additional escape route for the victims trapped inside. The Department of Licensing and Inspection (L&I) said the two-family, three-storey Rohome is not required to have a fire escape and claim the front door as the only exit.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said during a briefing on Wednesday morning that only two possible exits could be identified in the building because of its configuration.

Fire officials say they are working with the fire marshal’s office and the ATF to determine the cause of the blaze.

“We plan to make sure this tremendous loss of life doesn’t go to waste,” Deputy Fire Commissioner Murphy said.

Murphy called the fire one of the worst reactions he has ever had to his 35 years of work.

Murphy said, “It was terrifying. It’s been about 35 years now and it’s probably one of the deadliest fires ever.”

During Wednesday morning’s press conference at the scene, city and fire officials were asked about potential issues with 911 calls and the inability to reach dispatchers.

City officials clarified in their update Wednesday night that they received 36 911 calls regarding the fire between 6:36 a.m. and 6:39 a.m. on Wednesday. They say the first call at 6:36 was answered quickly, and the call taker received information about the location of the fire and transferred the call to Fire Communications in less than a minute. Firefighters were dispatched at 6:38 am and reached the spot two minutes later.

Residents who live nearby tell Fox 29 that they often see children playing outside the property and that there is a lot of activity around the house.

The cause of the fire is being investigated, although Deputy Commissioner Murphy said it is “not necessary” at this time to be considered suspicious. The Philadelphia Fire Department and the Office of the Fire Marshal are leading the investigation.

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