Share This Page

Philadelphia row home fire may have begun in couch

| Saturday, July 5, 2014, 2:11 p.m.
Philadelphia firefighters watch as a front wall collapses from a burned row home on Saturday, July 5, 2014, in Philadelphia. Authorities say the fast-moving fire early Saturday has killed four children. Fire department officials say there is no immediate word on how many others were injured in the blaze that destroyed eight homes in the row and engulfed a total of 10 houses.

PHILADELPHIA — A fire that raced through a row of two-story homes in southwest Philadelphia early Saturday, killing three 4-year-olds and a baby and engulfing at least 10 houses, may have started in a couch on a porch, officials said.

The blaze began shortly before 3 a.m. and was brought under control in about an hour, fire officials said. At least eight row homes were completely gutted, leaving behind only charred frames. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

A fire department dispatcher identified the victims as 4-year-old twin girls, a 4-year-old boy and a month-old boy. The relationship between the twins and the two boys was unclear. Four other people were injured.

Jeff Boone told The Philadelphia Inquirer that he saw a couch on fire on the porch of a house about five doors down from his residence and heard children screaming.

The flames spread across porches so fast, he said, that “it looked like someone had a flamethrower and just shot it all across.”

The 27-year-old Boone said he called 911 and bolted out of his house to try to save his neighbors.

“I was running, screaming, telling everybody, 'Get up! Yo, get yo! Go!'” he said.

Milton Musa told the newspaper his roommate woke him up and said their home was on fire. Once outside, Musa said, he saw two children hanging from a neighbor's window.

“I could see they weren't strong, and I was afraid they'd fall to the cement,” Musa said. “So I went underneath them, let them fall on my back and carried them away.”

He wiped away tears as he recalled the intense moments as the blaze swept through the neighborhood.

“Everyone was running for their lives,” he said. “I've lost everything. My paperwork, my documents, my house. Everything.”

A preliminary investigation indicated the blaze started in a couch at one home and spread quickly to other residences.

“This is a tragic, tragic day for the city of Philadelphia. Tragic,” Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said. “We lost four children today.”

The Red Cross said 42 people were displaced by the fire.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.