By RON TODT
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A large house fire in Philadelphia early Wednesday killed 13 people, including seven children, and sent two people to hospitals, fire officials said.
Officials said at a news conference later in the morning that there were four smoke detectors in the building but that none were operating.
Firefighters and police responded to the fire at a three-story rowhouse in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood around 6:40 a.m. and found flames coming from the second-floor windows, fire officials said. The house had been converted into two apartments, police said.
The fire was brought under control after less than an hour. WPVI-TV reported that at least one child was seen taken out on a stretcher.
Television news footage showed ladders propped up against the smoke-blackened front of the house, with all its windows missing. Holes remained in the roof where firefighters had broken through.
“I knew some of those kids — I used to see them playing on the corner,” said Dannie McGuire, 34, fighting back tears as she and Martin Burgert, 35, stood in the doorway of a home around the corner. They had lived there for a decade, she said, “and some of those kids have lived here as long as us.”
“I can’t picture how more people couldn’t get out — jumping out a window,” she said.
“Losing so many kids is just devastating,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Keep these babies in your prayers.”
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