Thirteen people have died following an early morning fire that ripped through a duplex in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia on Wednesday.
According to officials, seven kids were among the 13 victims that were killed in the blaze that broke out around 6:30 am.
“This is one of the most tragic days in our city’s history,” said Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney during a Wednesday morning press conference. “Losing so many kids is devastating.”
Firefighters and police first responded to the scene around 6:40 am on Wednesday. The Philadelphia Fire department tweeted that the three-story building was found in flames coming from the second floor.
According to officials, the Philadelphia Fire Department had the fire under control in less than an hour.
As firefighters battled the flames, they quickly discovered multiple people dead in their homes. WPVI-TV reported that at least one child was seen taken out on a stretcher.
During a press conference, officials revealed that the Philadelphia Housing authority owned the building. At least 26 people were residing in the apartment spread over the three floors of the duplex.
At least eight people were able to escape the flames, Philadelphia Fire Department Deputy Commissioner Craig Murphy said.
Firefighters said the two most seriously injured people were rescued from the home. Murphy said the rescues happened “quickly” once firefighters got to the injured people.
Two victims (one adult and one child) were transported to the area hospital. There are no updates on their condition.
The fire appeared to be out by 10 am, according to officials. Firefighters were seen going in and out of the rowhome, which had part of the roof cut out.
“It was such a sad moment,” he said. A 2020 inspection of the duplex revealed that six smoke detectors were working in the building., but during Wednesday morning’s press conference, firefighters said none were operational at the time of the blaze.
A PHA spokesperson said the housing is annually inspected and that the smoke alarm batteries were replaced during the most recent inspection in May 2021.
An investigation regarding the cause of the fire is ongoing via the City’s Fire Marshal and other organizations.