At least 13 people were killed when a massive fire destroyed a three-story rowhouse in Philadelphia. Officials said the victims included seven children. Two others were rushed to the hospital in critical condition.
It took firefighters about 50 minutes to extinguish the blaze, with the heaviest flames concentrated in the kitchen area on the second floor.
“This is without a doubt one of the most tragic days in our city’s history,” Mayor Jim Kenney said. “The loss of so many people in such a tragic way. Please keep all these folks and especially these children in your prayers. Losing so many kids is just devastating.”
There were 26 people living in the building, which was converted into apartments owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. There were eight people living in one unit, which was on the first and second floors. An additional 18 people were living in another unit that was on the second and third floors of the building.
“That is a tremendous amount of people to be living in a duplex,” Murphy said.
Investigators with the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office have not determined the cause of the fire. Officials said they have not found any evidence suggesting foul play was involved but noted that there were four smoke detectors inside that were all inoperable.
“I’ve been around for 35 years now, and this is probably one of the worst fires I’ve ever been to,” Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said. “We are working with the fire marshal’s office. We plan on and intend on getting a cause for this fire. We plan on making sure that this tremendous loss of life did not happen in vain.”