Live updates: fire kills 13 people in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood

Credit…Alejandro A. Alvarez / The Philadelphia Inquirer, via Associated Press

A fire killed 13 people, including seven children, in a Philadelphia townhouse on Wednesday morning, officials said, in one of the deadliest residential fires in the city’s recent history.

“This is without a doubt one of the most tragic days in our city’s history, the loss of so many people in such a tragic way,” Mayor Jim Kenney said at a press conference . “Losing so many children is just devastating. “

The Philadelphia Fire Department noted on Twitter that he responded to a “violent fire” from the second floor of a townhouse in the town’s Fairmount neighborhood at around 6:40 a.m. It took 50 minutes to bring the blaze under control, the department said. .

Eight people fled the building and two people, including a child, were taken to nearby hospitals, said Craig Murphy, Philadelphia’s first deputy fire commissioner.

“I’ve been here for 35 years now and it’s probably one of the worst fires I’ve ever seen,” he said. “We plan to make sure that this huge loss of life did not happen in vain. “

Mr Murphy said the death toll was “dynamic as there is still a recovery effort going on inside”.

At least four smoke detectors in the building were not working during the blaze, Mr Murphy said.

There were 26 people in the building at the time, including eight on the first floor, he said.

“That’s a huge amount of people to live in a duplex,” Mr. Murphy said.

The building was managed by the federally-funded Philadelphia Housing Authority, city officials said.

Police and firefighters were called to the 800 block of 23rd Street North at 6:38 a.m., said Constable Eric McLaurin, a spokesperson for the police department.

The fire submerged a house that had been turned into two apartments, he said.

Images from local TV stations showed large holes in the roof of the building after the blaze appeared to have been extinguished. Many windows in a row house had been smashed and blackened with soot rings.

Several fire trucks remained at the scene late Wednesday morning with their ladders deployed along the building.

“You just prayed for everyone involved,” Officer McLaurin said. “It’s a bad situation.”

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