Philadelphia Rowhouse Fire Leaves 13 Dead, Including 7 Children

Thirteen people are dead and two are hospitalized in critical condition after a fire swept through a Philadelphia rowhouse early this morning. Seven of those killed in what officials say is the city’s deadliest fire in more than a century were children.


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One of the critically injured victims injured was taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia,  the other was transported to Temple University Hospital, according to NBC News. Fire officials said they brought the fire under control in about 50 minutes and then they searched the rubble for more victims.

Vanessa McDonald lost two daughters, Rosalee McDonald, 33, and Virginia Thomas, 30, and six grandchildren in the fire, according to the Courier Times.

Investigators are still working to determine what started the fire in the public housing duplex located at 869 N. 23rd St. in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood just before 6:30 this morning. But they noted that none of the building’s four battery-operated smoke detectors was functional.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority told the Associated Press that two of the alarms, which are inspected annually, were replaced in 2020. The last inspection was in May 2021.

The three-story building had two units. Eight people lived in the downstairs unit which included the first floor and part of the second floor. Eighteen people lived in the upstairs unit which encompassed the rest of the second floor and all of the third floor. A spokesperson for Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections told the Associated Press that the city doesn’t set a maximum number of residents per unit.

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The fire attorneys at the national law firm Pritzker Hageman represent people who have been injured in fires and families who have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one. In one recent case, our experienced team fire lawyers filed a lawsuit against Minneapolis Public Housing Authority (MPHA) on behalf of victims of an apartment fire that broke out at Cedar High Apartments. Our legal team represented the families of two people who died in the fire.

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