PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A fire in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood on Wednesday morning killed at least 12 people – nine of them children. It is the deadliest single fire in at least a century in Philadelphia.
The death of so many people in a single fire in Philadelphia is almost unheard of.
Read more: At least 9 of 12 children in fire at Philadelphia Housing Authority apartment in Fairmount
Eyewitness News spoke to a historian who said he could not think of a fire that killed more civilians than Wednesday. He said the city’s rules could be changed after the investigation is completed.
Brian Anderson, curator of Philadelphia’s Fireman Hall Museum, said it was “one of the deadliest fires in the history of the city.”
Anderson says Wednesday morning’s fire will go down as one of the city’s deadliest. But he remembers other dark days in the city’s history.
In 1975, eight firefighters and a police officer were killed in a Gulf Refinery fire in South Philly. First responders were killed in an explosion for the first time since the fire.
“This was due to a leak of flammable fluid that was in the cylinder, which erupted due to an exhaust mechanism located close to the ground beneath the instrument,” Anderson said.
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One of the city’s more infamous fires occurred in May 1985. It was dubbed the MOVE bombing after Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on a neighborhood in West Philly. It was a failed attempt to arrest the members of the MOVE group, but it leveled the entire neighborhood.
“The tragedy killed 11 people – five children and six adults and six blocks of homes,” Anderson said.
In February 1991, three firefighters were killed in the Meridian Bank fire. The building opposite City Hall was one of the tallest buildings in the city at the time. The fire started on the 22nd floor and spread to the 30th floor before being extinguished.
Firefighters died of suffocation in the smoke. Anderson says this has led to a change in the city’s fire regulations.
“Having a fire extinguishing sprinkler system came about, updating the fire codes at these high rise locations, unfortunately, using the three firefighters who died from Engine 11 that day,” Anderson said.
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The city’s worst fire occurred in 1901 when a furniture shop in Center City killed 22 people.