At least 13 people, including 7 children, were killed in a fire in Philadelphia, Reuters reports

At least 13 people, including 7 children, were killed in a fire in Philadelphia, Reuters reports

(Reuters) – At least 13 people, including seven children, have died in one of the worst fires seen in Philadelphia in recent years after smoke detectors failed to activate in an apartment building, the Philadelphia Fire Department said.

Firefighters arrived around 6:40 a.m. (11:40 a.m. GMT) and fought for about 50 minutes to contain the fire on the second floor of a three-story building in the town of Fairmount. The building is owned by the state-funded Philadelphia Housing Authority.

Eight people managed to escape from the building through one of the two exits, and seven children were among the dead, First Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy told reporters at a nearby news conference. Officials did not give the children years.

“Keep those babies in your prayers,” Mayor Jim Kenney told reporters.

Fire officials said the death toll could change and the cause of the fire is still being investigated.

Fire trucks were still parked nearby in front of the red-brick building, whose facade turned black, the windows shattered, and darkness.

“It was terrible,” Murphy told reporters. “I’ve been around for 35 years and this is probably one of the worst fires I’ve ever been to.”

A child and an adult were rushed to nearby hospitals. There were four smoke detectors in the building, but they did not activate, firefighters said.

There have been conflicting reports about when smoke detectors were last inspected. The fire department said they were last inspected in 2020. Dinesh Indala, executive vice president at the Philadelphia Housing Authority, told reporters that the last annual inspection was in May 2021.

He said that at the time of the inspection in May, there were six functional battery detectors, not four. He said he did not know why the detectors did not activate.

The building was remodeled to accommodate two families, Indala said, and the building was home to 26 people.

First Lady Jill Biden, the wife of US President Joe Biden, called the fire tragic in a message on Twitter (NYSE 🙂 and said that her heart is with the victims and their loved ones.

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