What do we know about the Philadelphia Row House Fire?

National

Officials said eight of the 12 people killed were children.

Philadelphia firefighters and police work at the scene of a fatal Row House fire in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood. Matt Rourke / AP

A fire broke out in a crowded Philadelphia row house on Wednesday morning, killing at least 12 people in one of the deadliest residential fires in the country’s recent history. Officials said eight children were also among the dead.

Craig Murphy, the first deputy commissioner of the Philadelphia Fire Department, said there were 26 people in the Row House, which has been converted into two apartments, at the time of the fire. He said two people were taken to nearby hospitals.

The number of people who died in the fire a. More than 2008 Philadelphia home fire in which seven people died and 1985 Police Bombing Number of members of the MOVE group, which killed 11 people and burned down 61 homes in the West Philadelphia neighborhood.

Many details about the fire, including a cause, remain unclear. Here we know.

What happened in Row House?

The Philadelphia Fire Department responded to a “massive fire” from the second floor of a building in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood at around 6:40 a.m., taking firefighters about 50 minutes to control, the department said.

Laurie Roma, who lives across the street from the building, said she woke up screaming.

“When I looked outside,” said 44-year-old Roma, “I saw orange flames coming out of the second-floor windows, and a man was shouting for help.”

Roma said no one answered when she dialed 911, but firefighters arrived two minutes after her call. A city spokesman said 911 received the first call about the fire at 6:36 a.m. and was followed by dozens of calls.

The century-old, three-story brick row house belonged to the federally funded Philadelphia Housing Authority, which bought it in 1967, according to property records. more than 80,000 people According to the agency, live in their homes in Philadelphia.

What caused the fire?

Murphy said the cause of the fire was being investigated.

“We all have our hands on deck because of the magnitude of this fire,” he said.

What do we know about the victims?

Authorities did not reveal the names or ages of the victims as of Wednesday night, but said eight of the 12 people killed were children.

Jacuita Purifoy told reporters Wednesday afternoon that the children were her nieces and nephews, and that three of her sisters had also died in the fire.

He said a 5-year-old nephew had survived and was in the hospital. “He wants his mother, he wants his father, he wants his sister, he wants his cousin,” Purifoy said.

The mayor’s office said firefighters rescued a child from Row House, but the child did not survive.

Why were there so many people inside the building?

Dinesh Indala, executive vice president of housing operations at the housing authority, said it was not clear why there were 26 people in the building.

“It’s the holidays – I don’t know if they had people coming and going,” Indala said. “I do not know.”

Mayor Jim Kenney urged the public to think about the conditions that could have allowed so many people to live in the building at the time of the fire.

“Sometimes it’s better for people to stay indoors than to be on the street,” Kenny said. “Maybe there were people or relatives who needed shelter.”

“We cannot decide on the people of the house because sometimes people need to stay indoors,” he said.

Were the building’s smoke detectors working?

Murphy said that at least four smoke detectors in the row house did not go off during the fire.

He said four smoke detectors were installed in 2019, and another inspection was conducted in 2020. According to the Philadelphia Housing Authority, smoke detectors were last inspected in 2021.

During the most recent inspection of the building’s B unit on May 5, 2021, Indala said, six smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide monitors were working. He said the agency, which inspects its properties annually, replaced smoke detectors at the unit during an inspection in September 2019.

Indala said that at the last inspection of the A unit on April 23, 2021, the apartment had seven smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide monitors and two more were installed.

He said he didn’t know what caused the smoke detector to stop working.

This article was originally from . appeared in the new York Times,