Seven killed in Philadelphia house fire
Dec 28, 2008, 0:12 GMT
Washington - A portable heater sparked a raging fire that killed seven people, including four children, in Philadelphia, police said Saturday. Three others were hospitalized.
There were no smoke detectors in the house in southwestern Philadelphia, so there was no warning of the fire that broke out late Friday night in a basement room of the three-storey home.
At that time, the adults were watching action film The Bourne Ultimatum, while the children slept on the floor.
The heater exploded when resident Christiana Teah tried to refill it with fuel, survivor Harris Murphy, 35, told the Philadelphia Inquirer. He, Teah and two other adults managed to escape and call for help.
The house was under renovation and a connecting staircase from the basement had been removed, fire officials said.
'We have not found any smoke alarms at all, which we are very saddened by,' Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers was quoted as saying. 'We found kerosene heaters in the basement ... on the third floor. Outside of that, you see what people have when they are living their lives in a holiday season - pictures, the Holy Bible, clothes stacked.'
Six victims were found huddled outside a bathroom in the basement. Officials said they weren't burned, but appeared to have suffocated to death. A seventh victim, an 18-month-old boy, died in hospital.
While firemen put out the blaze in half an hour, they were unable to save the seven Liberian immigrants.