Philadelphia house fire kills at least 12 including children
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – At least 13 people have died in a row house fire that erupted on Wednesday.
The Philadelphia Fire Department responded to a call of a fatal fire early Wednesday morning that is now under control.
The fire broke out at a three-story home that was converted into several apartments, or row housing. The building itself is currently owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
In a press conference held on Wednesday, Darrell L. Clarke, president of the Philadelphia City Council, said, "To say I’m at a loss for words is an understatement. It just punches you in the gut."
According to authorities, 13 people have been confirmed dead from the fire, with seven being children, and two additional individuals have been sent to the hospital.
Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy also spoke at the conference, calling the fire, "One of the worst fires I've ever been to" throughout his 30-plus year career.
According to Murphy, the building had four smoke detectors that seemed to have malfunctioned during the incident.
"There was heavy fire in the kitchen area in the front of the second floor and an open stairwell to the third floor," Murphy said, later adding the fire, "[Is] not necessarily considered suspicious, but we have all hands on deck because of the magnitude."
A representative from the Philadelphia Housing Authority told CNN that the building, which housed 26 people, was inspected in May 2021. During that inspection, it was found that six smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide detectors were functional at the time.
On Wednesday afternoon, first lady Jill Biden shared her condolences on Twitter, writing, "My heart is with the families and loved ones of the victims of the tragic fire in Philadelphia."
The cause of the fire is currently unknown, as authorities are awaiting "special equipment" to arrive on the scene to assess the situation once the building is safe to enter.
This is a developing story.
Update, January 6, 5:02 PM EST: City updates number of victims to 12
The city of Philadelphia has released a new update from its previously reported number of victims.
Officials now confirm that 12 people – eight children and four adults – died in the fire.
Cover photo: Screenshot/Twitter/PhillyFireDept