Location of the deadly fire that occurred Wednesday in a building in Philadelphia, United States – Kenan AUGEARD
Thirteen people, including seven children, have died in a fire affecting a small apartment building in central Philadelphia, in the eastern United States, the city firefighters said on Wednesday.
“For now, the death toll is 13 (dead),” said a representative of the firefighters on the spot, Craig Murphy, adding that seven children were among the victims.
“It was terrible, (…) it’s a terrible record,” he continued during an impromptu press briefing broadcast live on Twitter. “This is one of the worst fires I have seen” in 35 years of practice, he added.
“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.
Philadelphia firefighters arrived at the scene at 6:40 am (11:40 GMT) and had to deal with “an intense fire originating from the second floor of a house” which has three. “It took 50 minutes to bring the fire under control,” they said.
The tragic fire took place in the central and residential neighborhood of Fairmont, where the great museums of Philadelphia are located, in a small building owned by the city.
US media images show the building sits in the middle of a row of small houses, along a block that forms the corner of a small street. Several windows, from which the firefighters’ ladders come out, are completely blackened there, as well as part of the roof.
– An open investigation –
According to firefighter representative Craig Murphy, “there were four smoke detectors but none worked.” He added that “a very large number of people” lived in a very small number of apartments.
According to a police source quoted by the local daily Philadelphia Inquirer, the building has two apartments.
According to Craig Murphy, eight people had managed to evacuate the scene of the fire and two others were hospitalized.
“We cannot pass judgment on the number of people who lived in this building,” added the mayor.
Firefighters and the town hall announced that an investigation was underway to determine the conditions under which the fire started.
“It’s not necessarily considered suspicious, but we have everyone on deck because of the scale of this fire,” the fire department representative told reporters.
In December 2017, a fire in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City killed 12 people including four children, the worst in 25 years in the city. It had been provoked by a three-and-a-half-year-old child playing with a gas stove.