Updated Jan 5, 2022 - News

Philadelphia row house fire kills at least 13, including 7 kids

Philadelphia firefighters work at the scene of a deadly row house fire, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, in Philadelphia.

Philadelphia firefighters work at the scene of a deadly row house fire in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia Wednesday. Photo: Matt Rourke/AP

A large fire in a Philadelphia row house Wednesday left at least 13 people dead — including seven children, fire officials confirmed.

Driving the news: The number of dead remains "dynamic" and could change as the recovery effort continues inside the second floor of a duplex in the 800 block of N 23rd Street, deputy fire commissioner Craig Murphy said during a morning news conference.

  • "This is without a doubt one of the most tragic days in our city's history. The loss of so many people in such a tragic way," Mayor Jim Kenney said during the press conference.

Details: Firefighters discovered the heavy fire on the second floor of the three-story house located in the Fairmount neighborhood starting around 6:38am, Murphy said.

  • Eight people were evacuated from the building. A child was transported to the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, while another individual was taken to Temple University Hospital.
  • An investigation into the cause of the fire remains ongoing. It's not considered suspicious at this time, Murphy said.

Between the lines: The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) owns the three-story row house, Murphy confirmed. Kenney noted that the city does not own or operate PHA.

  • Four smoke detectors were discovered in the building but not operating, Murphy said.
  • Six battery-operated smoke detectors were reportedly operating in the duplex during a PHA inspection in 2020, he said.
  • PHA president Kelvin Jeremiah said in a released statement that the property was inspected in May 2021, and all smoke detectors were operating properly at the time.

Of note: Murphy said 26 people appeared to live in the duplex, eight on the first floor and 18 on the second and third floors, which he described as a "tremendous amount of people to be living in a duplex."

What they're saying: "I don't have the words for how we're feeling right now as a community and as a department," Murphy said, adding that the fire resulted in a "tremendous loss of life."

  • "This unimaginable loss of life has shaken all of us at PHA," Jeremiah said in a statement. "It is too early for us to say more."

City Council President Darrell Clarke, who represents the neighborhood, said the incident "punches you in the gut."

  • "Children, people in the community. This is tragic."

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Philadelphia.

More Philadelphia stories