PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Nine children are among 12 people killed in a fire at two apartment units owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority on Wednesday morning in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood. The Philadelphia Fire Department arrived at the building on the 800 block of North 23rd Street just after 6:30 a.m. in massive flames
Officials confirmed to CBS3’s Joe Holden that three adults and nine teenagers were killed in the massive fire. The age of the victims is between two and 33 years.
Read more: First Lady Jill Biden among leaders to react to ‘heartbreaking damage’ in fatal fire at Philadelphia Housing Authority apartment
“It was terrifying, mostly, I’ve been around 30, 35 years now and it’s probably the deadliest fire ever,” Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said during a press conference.
— Matt Petrillo (@MattPetrillo) 5 January 2022
Murphy says the number of victims is “dynamic as recovery efforts are still ongoing.”
Eight people evacuated the building and two more people were taken to the CHOP and Temple University Hospital.
The workers brought the fire under control by 7:31 am
Murphy says the building was split into two apartments. The first floor unit reportedly had eight people and the second and third floor units housed 18 people.
The home is owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. According to the PHA, Unit A has seven smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide detectors and Unit B has six smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide detectors. This leaves a total of 13 smoke and six carbon monoxide detectors in the building that do not work. ,
Dinesh Indala, senior executive and vice president of operations, PHA, says the inspections are carried out annually.
“The most recent inspection on the B unit was May 5, 2021, and at that time, we had six smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide detectors working,” Indala said. “We had to replace two batteries in two smoke detectors, all replaced. Last inspection, on 9/28/2019, we had to replace the smoke detectors again in the same unit. On Unit A, the latest inspection and two smoke detectors were installed on 4/23 and there were seven smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide detectors present and signed by the tenant as part of the Smoke Detector Response Form.
Read more: Deadly Fairmount Fire. Years ago, PHA residents sounded the alarm on escape routes
Indala says that the PHA was not aware that 26 people were living inside the unit.
“No, we weren’t,” said Indala. “We are cooperating with the fire department and everyone else in the investigation right now. This is L&I stuff. The whole family is yet to be informed so we don’t want to comment on who and what. There are a lot of people on that property.”
The PHA conducts inspections annually and the last was in May 2021. Indala says it’s the holidays and it’s not clear if “they have people coming and going.”
Murphy says the fire is not considered suspicious at this time, but the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Fire Marshals Office is leading the investigation into the loss of life.
“Working with the Fire Marshal’s office, we plan and intend to determine the cause of the fire, making sure this tremendous loss of life is not wasted,” Murphy said. .
ATF agents are also helping by reaching the spot.
— ATF Philadelphia (@ATFPPhiladelphia) 5 January 2022
more news: Philadelphia police looking for accused of nearly a dozen gunpoint robberies
Stay tuned for the latest updates on this developing story on CBS3 online and on-air and streaming on CBSN Philly.