Live Updates

At least 13 dead in fire at Philadelphia row home

Deputy fire commissioner calls deadly house fire 'one of the worst'
02:08

What we covered here

  • At least 13 people have died, including seven children, in a Philadelphia fire at a three-story home that was converted into apartments, officials said.
  • The building had fire detectors, but they failed to work during the blaze, officials noted. 
  • The fire took 50 minutes to get under control, according to the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Our live coverage has ended. Read more about the fire here.

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City leaders pledge to support families affected by "heartbreaking" Philadelphia fire

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney after giving a news conference near the scene of a deadly row house fire on Wednesday.

Local leaders and First lady Jill Biden are expressing their condolences and mourning the loss of 13 people killed in a Philadelphia house fire on Wednesday, calling the tragedy “heartbreaking.”

State Representative Malcolm Kenyatta said the incident weighs heavy, but he is keeping hope for those still in the hospital.

“I’m having a hard time finding the words to express my deep sorrow for the heartbreaking loss of 13 lives, including 7 kids, in this morning’s fire in Fairmount,” Kenyatta said on Twitter. “This weighs heavy as we mourn those lost and keep hope for those being treated in the hospital.”

City Council President Darrell Clarke praised the work of the Philadelphia Fire Department in a statement, pledging support to both first responders and the families as the community starts to recover.

“We send our prayers to the family members, friends and neighbors of the six adults and seven children who died this morning’s fire,” the statement added.

Kelvin Jeremiah, the president and CEO of the Philadelphia Housing Authorities said, “The unimaginable loss of life has shaken all of us at PHA. It is too early for us to say more.”

Jeremiah reiterated in the statement posted on Twitter that all of the smoke detectors were working properly when the house was inspected in May 2021.

Previously, Dinesh Indala, senior executive vice president of operations for the PHA, said officials determined six smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide detectors were functional during that inspection. Earlier today, fire officials said smoke detectors in the building did not operate during today’s fire.

“Our primary goal is to support our residents in any way we can,” Jeremiah said.

Right now, the cause of the fire is “not necessarily considered suspicious,” according to Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy, but it is under investigation by the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s office because of the magnitude of the blaze.

The Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office remains “prepared to work with our partner agencies in the event that any criminal act is involved.”

First lady Jill Biden also tweeted her sympathy, saying, “My heart is with the families and loved ones of the victims of the tragic fire in Philadelphia.”

Philly housing authority says May 2021 inspection showed 6 working smoke detectors in 1 apartment

People near the scene of a deadly row house fire on Wednesday.

At least one of the apartment units in the home where a fatal fire broke out in Philadelphia was inspected in May 2021, according to a representative from the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

At that time, it was determined six smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide detectors were functional, said Dinesh Indala, senior executive vice president of operations for the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

Indala also said the housing authority was not aware 26 people were living in the building and they are working with the Department of Licenses and Inspections to determine how many people were allowed to live there. However, he acknowledged 26 was likely too high.

Indala said his department is “in total” shock over the deaths. “Everyone is mourning the loss,” he said.

Fire and police officials said the structure was a home converted into apartments.

Indala said most recent inspection of the B unit of the residence was done on May 5, adding that at that time there were six smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide detectors working. 

“We actually had to replace two batteries and two smoke detectors,” said Indala.

The previous inspection on the B unit was on Sept. 28, 2019, where they “had to replace smoke detectors,” according to Indala.

Indala said the latest inspection on the other unit, the A Unit, was on April 23, when two smoke detectors were installed. He did not specify the year, and CNN is following up. “An inspection reflects seven smokes and three carbon monoxide present,” said Indala.

Earlier today, fire officials said smoke detectors in the building did not operate during today’s fire.

When asked by a reporter why the smoke detectors did not work if they were inspected in May 2021, Indala replied, “I don’t know if they were replaced or tampered with. We have no idea. We are working with the fire department at this time to do further inspections.”

Officials are waiting for special equipment to investigate fatal Philadelphia fire

Investigators at the scene of a deadly row house fire on Wednesday.

Investigators are waiting for special equipment to be brought to the scene of the fatal house fire in Philadelphia to work on the structure, according to a law enforcement official.

The official said that once the building is deemed safe, investigators will be able to enter.

At least 13 people have died after a fire broke out at the three-story home that was converted into apartments, officials said.

26 people lived in the Philadelphia row home where the deadly fire broke out, fire official says

A Philadelphia firefighter works at the scene of a deadly row house fire on Wednesday.

A total of 26 people lived in the three-story home that suffered a fatal fire Wednesday, with eight people living on the first floor and 18 people living on the second and third floors, fire officials said.

At least 13 people were killed in the blaze.

Firefighters confronted “heavy fire” in the kitchen area toward the front of the second floor, and there was an open stairwell to the third floor, he said.

“It’s not necessarily considered suspicious, but we have all hands on deck because of the magnitude” Murphy said.

The fire is under investigation by the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s office. Authorities could not release ages of the deceased.

Philly fire occurred in row home owned by city housing authority with no violations, authorities say 

Philadelphia firefighters work at the scene of a deadly row house fire on Wednesday.

The building where the fatal Philadelphia fire took place is a legal row home that has been legally subdivided into two apartments since the 1950s and has had no violations, according to Karen Guss, the communications director of the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections.

Guss said the home has had three minor complaints. CNN is reaching out for more information.

According to property records obtained by CNN, the building where the deadly house fire occurred was owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority. 

CNN has reached out to the housing authority for comment, and the authority said it would be holding a press conference shortly.

The building, according to records, was estimated to have been built in 1920.

7 children died in Philadelphia fire, deputy chief says

Seven of the at least 13 people killed in a fire in a Philadelphia building were children, according to Philadelphia Fire Deputy Commissioner Craig Murphy.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney began a briefing on the fatal fire, mourning the loss of “so many kids.”

“Keep these babies in your prayers,” Kenney said.

There were 4 smoke detectors in the building, but none of them worked, fire official says

An unidentified woman reacts at the scene of a deadly row house fire on Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022, in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia.

There were four smoke detectors in the row home that caught fire Wednesday morning, but none of the operated, Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said at a news conference.

He described the detectors as “battery-operated” and noted they were equipped with “10-year lithium batteries.”

At least 13 people, including children, were killed in the fire that broke out at a three-story Philadelphia home Wednesday morning. The home was converted into apartments.

The news conference with officials is ongoing.

Philadelphia deputy fire commissioner: "This is probably one of the worst fires I've ever been to"

Fire damaged windows are seen at the scene of a deadly row house fire on Wednesday.

Philadelphia Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy described the deadly fire at a city row home as “one of the worst fires” he’s ever been to.

At least 13 people were killed in the fire Wednesday morning at the three-story home that was converted into apartments.

“I don’t have the words for how we’re feeling right now,” he added.

SOON: Officials give update on the deadly Philadelphia fire

Firefighters at the scene of a deadly fire on Wednesday.

The Philadelphia Fire Department said officials will hold a news conference around 10:45 a.m. ET today to discuss a fire at a row home that killed at least 13 people.

The fire is now under control, a law enforcement official said earlier today, but investigators have not yet been able to get inside the home. 

13 dead in fire at 3-story Philadelphia home converted into apartments

At least 13 people died in Philadelphia Wednesday morning in a fire that broke out in a three-story home that was converted into apartments, according to a law enforcement official.

Investigators have not yet gone inside the home, though the fire is under control, the law enforcement official said.

Investigators are still trying to determine the origin and cause of the fire, the law enforcement official said.

The source requested anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the ongoing investigation.

Philadelphia fire officials tweeted that they responded Wednesday morning to a fire surging from the second floor of a three-story row house.

The fire on the 800 block of North 23rd Street took 50 minutes to get under control, Philadelphia Fire said in a tweet. The call came in around 6:40 a.m. ET.

Philadelphia police described the address as a home converted into two apartments. 

Both police and fire officials are on location, police said, and the scene is still active despite the fire being under control, the fire department said.