Watch the press conference in the embedded video above starting at 2:15pm
City officials are disclosing their preliminary findings in an investigation into the a fast-spreading fire that killed eight children and four adults in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood last week.
Mayor Jim Kenney, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel, Philadelphia Housing Authority President & CEO Kelvin Jeremiah and ATF Special Agent in Charge Matthew Varisco are all set to speak during a press conference at City Hall begins at 2:15 p.m. Tuesday.
A spokesman for the Philadelphia Fire Department told NBC10 that Permit & Inspection took over management of the scene Monday. She did not disclose when the update will be available.
The fire on the 800 block of 23 North Street broke out Wednesday morning on the second floor of a three-story home, owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. At least 26 people live in the compound, which has been split into two apartments, fire officials said.
According to sources, a child inside the home told investigators that a Christmas tree had caught fire. Sources told NBC10 that the child was playing with a lighter near the tree. That child managed to escape the fire.
When firefighters arrived at about 6:40 a.m., there was a large fire spreading from the kitchen area on the second floor and up the open stairs to the third floor, Philadelphia Fire Department Deputy Commissioner Craig Murphy said. He said there was little to stop the fire from moving.
“That sucks. I’ve been here for about 35 years now and this is probably one of the worst fires I’ve ever been on,” commented Murphy. The fire was tied to a deadly residential fire sixth in the United States since 1980, according to the nonprofit National Fire Protection Association.
A neighbor said he heard screams around 6:30 a.m. and went downstairs to find the house on fire. “It was just a shocking moment,” he said.
As firefighters battled the blaze, they discovered many people dead in the home. According to the city fire department, it took 50 minutes for the fire to be brought under control.
According to the PHA, each family living in the property originally moved in in 2011.
“The family has grown from 2011 to 2021, adding about eight children in the family,” PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah said during a press conference Thursday afternoon. “This is a family that wants to be together. Our mission is to provide safe, hygienic housing. And I think we did in this case.”
While at least 26 people live inside the property, Jeremiah said the lease is for 20 people in two units.
“Our lease and agreements with families indicate that 14 authorized residents are said to be in Unit B. In Unit A there are six members,” says Jeremiah. “This is the time of year when families get together. We will not criticize the families who have suffered this unimaginable loss. We are supporting them in their efforts.”
There were six battery-operated smoke detectors installed in the home, but none were working at the time of the fire, firefighters said. Jeremiah said in a written statement that all smoke detectors were functioning properly when the property was last inspected last May.
Philadelphia School District officials confirmed that at least some of the children killed in the fire attended schools in the district. The fire also left four adults dead and two people, including another child, in critical condition.
Two of the children are students and three are former students, while the other three appear to have attended non-SDP schools, district spokeswoman Monica Lewis said. The district will provide counseling and support services to students and staff.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family members, friends and school community who are grieving this unimaginable loss,” Lewis said.
A “friends and family” center has also been established at Bache-Martin Elementary School to assist those affected by the tragedy, as well as provide information and support to the family and friends of the family. victims, she added.
In addition, the Foundation for the School District of Philadelphia – a nonprofit that serves to connect private sector finance with the district – in association with Mayor Jim Kenney and City Council President Darrell Clarke, has fund and is making a donation to support the families affected by the fire.
https://www.nbcphiladelphia.com/news/local/philly-officials-reveal-preliminary-findings-of-deadly-fairmount-fire/3104046/ Philly Officials Reveal Preliminary Findings of Deadly Fire in Fire – NBC10 Philadelphia