twelve dead, including eight children, in the fire of a social housing building in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney recalls ” one of the most tragic days in history ” from the city. Twelve people, including eight children, died in the fire at a small public housing building in Philadelphia, Pa. On Wednesday, January 5, one of the deadliest residential fires in recent history. United States.

The tragic fire set a small city-owned building affiliated with Federal Social Housing ablaze in the central residential and residential district of Fairmont, home to Philadelphia’s major museums. Firefighters arrived at the scene at 6:40 a.m. (12:40 p.m. KST) and had to confront “An intense fire coming from the second level of a house” which has three. “It took fifty minutes to bring the fire under control”, they said in a tweet.

The building sits in the middle of a row of small houses, along a block with brick facades, typical of some American cities. Several windows, from which the firefighters’ ladders come out, are completely blackened there, as well as part of the roof.

“They will never come back”

“According to my parishioners, the people who live there are rather people who need help”the priest of a nearby Ukrainian Catholic church, Ruslan Borovyi, told Agence France-Presse (AFP).

In the evening, several people gathered near the scene of the fire to pay tribute to the victims. Among them, Jacuita Purifoy lost three sisters and seven nephews and nieces in the drama. “I don’t know what to do, I don’t know what to say (…) My sisters, my nephews and my nieces are gone, they will never come back ”Said in a sigh, upset, Jacuita, 37, who found one of her other sisters draped in a red and white Salvation Army blanket.

The ten loved ones she lost are aged 1 to 33. And she is also worried about another child in the family, 5, who has been hospitalized. “He doesn’t know what’s going on. He wants his mother, his father, his sisters, his cousins, all those with whom he has lived for five years and whom he does not know are dead ”, she adds.

People gathered on January 5, 2022, to pay tribute to the victims of the fire that occurred in the morning in Philadelphia.

No smoke detector was working

Firefighters have announced the opening of an investigation to determine how the fire started, why it spread so quickly and left the victims no chance. 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 only two homes, ensuring that eight people had managed to escape the flames and two others had been hospitalized. For its part, the Philadelphia housing agency assured that the building had been inspected in May 2021 and that at the time all the detectors were working.

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“We cannot pass judgment on the number of people who lived in this building”, added the mayor, suggesting that, “Maybe there were members of these families who needed to be safe.”.

The death toll is one of the deadliest for Philadelphia, a large city in Pennsylvania and the sixth most populous city in the United States (approximately 1.5 million inhabitants). In 2008, seven immigrants died after the explosion of a kerosene heater in a small brick building. In December 2017, a fire in the Bronx neighborhood of New York City killed 12 people, including four children, the worst in twenty-five years in the city. It was provoked by a 3.5 year old child playing with a gas stove.

The World with AFP