WASHINGTON: Thirteen people, including seven children, died when a fire tore through a converted three-story house in the eastern US city of Philadelphia on Wednesday, officials said.
Philadelphia Fire Department deputy commissioner Craig Murphy said the toll was “dynamic because there is still an ongoing recovery effort inside.”
Two additional people were rushed to the hospital, he added. The fire officer said that it was the worst fire he had seen in 35 years on the job.
Murphy said it was too early to say what caused the blaze but that his department was conducting an investigation.
“It’s not necessarily considered suspicious but we have all hands on deck because of the magnitude of this fire,” he told reporters.
“We’re in the process of investigating this to the highest level that we can. We´re incorporating all of our resources.”
He said that there were four smoke detectors in the building but “none of them” had been operating.
The building is owned by Philadelphia´s public housing authority. Eight people managed to evacuate themselves from the house, Murphy said.
The fire department said its officers arrived at the scene in the Fairmount area at 6:40 am (1140 GMT) “and found heavy fire coming from the second floor of a three-story rowhouse.”
“PFD responded to a fatal fire this morning on the 800 block of N. 23rd St,” it said in a tweet.
“It took 50 minutes to place the fire under control.”