Emotional Philadelphia officials, including Mayor Jim Kenney and members of the city’s fire department, said that at least 13 people died in an early morning blaze that engulfed a building in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood on January 5.
“It’s a sad, sad day, both for the Philadelphia Fire Department and the citizens of the city of Philadelphia,” said Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy at a press conference on Wednesday. “I don’t have the words for how we are feeling right now as a community and as a department.”
Murphy said firefighters began responding at around 6:38 am to a fire in a three-story building on the 800 block of 23rd Street in Fairmount. Crews began an “aggressive” attack on the blaze, during which they found “multiple fatalities.”
Murphy said that as of late morning, 13 people had been confirmed dead, including seven children. (Officials later revised the numbers to 12 dead, including eight children.) Two other victims, one of them a child, had been taken to area hospitals. Murphy told reporters that four smoke detectors in the building were nonfunctional.
“I’ve been around for … 35 years now, and this is probably one of the worst fires I’ve ever been to,” said a visibly distraught Murphy. Credit: Philadelphia Fire Department via Storyful