13, Including 7 Children, Die in Philly Rowhome Converted Into Apartments: Officials

By Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Jack Phillips
Breaking News Reporter
Jack Phillips is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in New York. He covers breaking news.
January 5, 2022Updated: January 5, 2022

At least 13 people, including seven children, died as a quick-moving fire ripped through a crowded home in Philadelphia early Wednesday morning, officials said.

“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,” Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney told reporters at a news conference.

Officials told 6ABC that 18 people live in a second-floor apartment on the three-story rowhouse, while another eight people lived on the first floor.

“Losing so many kids is just devastating,” added Kenney. “Keep these babies in your prayers.”

But Kenney continued to say that “you don’t know the circumstances of each and every family and maybe there were relatives or people that needed to be sheltered.

“Obviously the tragedy happened and we all mourn for it but we can’t make judgment on the number of people in the house because sometimes people need to be indoors,” he added.

Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy told reporters that upon arrival at around 6:40 a.m., firefighters saw heavy flames coming out of the second floor.

“That is a tremendous amount of people to be living in a duplex,” Murphy said.

In a Twitter post, the Philadelphia Fire Department said that it “took 50 minutes to place the fire under control.”

“I knew some of those kids … I used to see them playing on the corner,” said Dannie McGuire, 34, told The Associated Press, while adding that “some of those kids have lived here as long as us.”

“I can’t picture how more people couldn’t get out; jumping out a window,” she said.

There were four smoke alarms in the building, Murphy said, none of which appeared to be working. The alarms had been inspected annually, and at least two had been replaced in 2020, with batteries replaced in the others at that time, Philadelphia Housing Authority officials said.

Television news footage showed ladders propped up against the smoke-blackened front of the house, with all its windows missing. Holes remained in the roof where firefighters had broken through.

The odd configuration of the house, which had been split into two apartments, made it difficult to navigate, Kenney also said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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