PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Investigators are “almost certain” that a Christmas tree ignited by a lighter found nearby caused a tragic fire in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood last week. On the morning of January 5, 12 people, including children, were killed in a fire that broke out at two units of the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
Philadelphia Fire Chief Adam Thiel says the initial ignition source has been determined to be a lit Christmas tree after “a thorough investigation of the scene” and based on the testimony of a 5-year-old.
Read more: ‘Miracle landing’: 4 people, including infant, survive medical helicopter crash at Drexel Hill, officials tell CBS3
Investigators, along with the ATF and Fire Marshal, did not locate any other source of fire after conducting an extensive search of the site.
The Christmas tree was located in a second-floor unit and Thiel says the 5-year-old was the only survivor who was rescued from the second floor.
“Words of a 5-year-old who is essentially one of the two survivors of this tragedy and is actually the only survivor who, based on our interviews, was located, the only person who was on the second floor. Where the tree and the lighter We are left with the words of a five-year-old, who is a traumatized child, to help us understand how lighters and trees lead to tragic consequences. came together because we have disproved any other theory, hypothesis, based on the incredible level of expertise brought in, including the ATF’s national response team and all other partners who contributed to this investigation,” Thiel said.
Last week CBS3 learned that the fire may have been started by a five-year-old playing with a lighter near the Christmas tree. But Fire Chief Adam Thiel says you can’t just rely on the testimony of a 5-year-old.
Read more: Red Cross says country’s blood supply is dangerously low
“We are almost certain that the Christmas tree on the second floor was the object that was ignited first. We are fairly certain that the fire that started the fire was the lighter and how the lighter came into contact with the Christmas tree, which you have seen in 5 Saw and heard the words of a year old,” said Thiel. “We are left with words. The only survivor who was on the second floor at the time we think the fire started was a 5-year-old. We’re not going to go into the details of the words of a 5-year-old.”
Investigators found nothing to contradict the words of a 5-year-old, but Thiel says this does not prove that the child started the fire because “we are talking about the words of a 5-year-old.” are.”
Thiel says the fire is thought to have been incendiary, meaning that officials believe it did not happen accidentally.
“We believe there was some kind of human intervention to get the ignition source to be the first item to ignite,” Thiel said. “Again, you’ve heard me say that it’s based on no certainty, but on the less certain words of a 5-year-old. We don’t have any hypotheses, we really don’t have anything to the contrary What we know for sure is the tree, the next thing we know for sure is definitely lighter and again we are left with the words of this 5-year-old.
Seven smoke detectors were found in the second-floor unit where the fire broke out. Three in the kitchen, one in the bedroom drawer, one on the floor, and they were all inactive.
more news: Coldest day in 3 years in Philadelphia area as temperature feels like single digits
The City of Brotherly Love has come together to help those affected by this tragedy. Click here to learn how you can donate to the victims.