13 people, including several children, were killed on Wednesday when fire broke out at a row house in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood. Firefighters arrived at the three-story property at about dawn and found heavy smoke coming from the second floor of the home, which is owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. Officials said it took crews almost an hour to get the blaze under control.
Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy told reporters during a press conference: “It’s a sad, sad day for the Philadelphia Fire Department and the city. I’ve been around for 35 years now and this is probably one of the worst firsts I’ve ever been to.” Murphy added: “There were four smoke detectors in that building and none of them operated. There was an inspection done by the PHA in 2019. When they went out in 2019, they installed four smoke detectors. And there was another inspection in 2020. When they went out that time, they installed two smoke detectors.”
The home was divided into separate living spaces and 26 people were living there at the time of the fire. The PHA is the nation’s fourth-largest public housing authority and owns more than 14,000 affordable housing units, according to its website. Officials said the fire doesn’t appear to be suspicious, but the cause is under investigation. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is aiding in the inquiry.
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