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'This Is Probably One of the Worst Fires I've Ever Been To'

'Heavy fire' kills 13 in Philadelphia home
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 5, 2022 10:09 AM CST
'It Was Terrible': 13 Dead in Philadelphia House Fire
Philadelphia firefighters work at the scene of a deadly row house fire on Wednesday in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia.   (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

At least 13 people are dead, seven of them children, in a Philadelphia house fire that Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy described as among the worst he has witnessed. "It was terrible," said Murphy, per CNN. "I've been around for 30, 35 years now, and this is probably one of the worst fires I've ever been to." A resident of N. 23rd Street in Philadelphia's Fairmount section says that "about a quarter of 7, I heard a woman yelling, 'Oh my God, oh my God.'" He tells the Philadelphia Inquirer he peered out the window and saw nothing. Then, five minutes later, the firetrucks arrived to tackle a blaze that ended up killing multiple people. The New York Times reports it took the Philadelphia Fire Department 50 minutes to get the "heavy fire" under control.

A rep for the Philadelphia Police Department says the house where the fire occurred had been legally converted into two apartments decades ago. It was owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority and had no violations, says a rep for the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections. CNN reports no cause has yet been determined. Murphy said at a news conference that the home contained four smoke detectors equipped with "10-year lithium batteries," but that none were operational. Two others who were seriously injured have been hospitalized. Murphy said 26 people lived in the three-story row house. The Inquirer quotes a "choked up" Mayor Jim Kenney as saying "this is without a doubt one of the most tragic days in our city's history." (More fire stories.)

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