PHILADELPHIA — Officials now say a large house fire in Philadelphia has killed 12 people, including eight children. Earlier in the day, authorities had said 13 people died.
Firefighters and police responded to the fire at a three-story rowhouse early Wednesday in the Fairmount neighborhood around 6:40 a.m. and found flames coming from the second-floor windows.
According to NBC News, thethree-story structure, which had been converted into two apartments, is in the 800 block of North 23rd Street.
"Preliminary information indicates companies arrived at 6:40 a.m. and found heavy fire coming from the second floor of a three-story rowhouse," the Philadelphia Fire Department tweeted. "It took 50 minutes to place the fire under control."
Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy told CBS News that eight people were able to escape the building as the flames spread. CNN reports that 26 people in total lived in the building.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though Murphy said firefighters encountered "heavy fire" in a second-floor kitchen.
"It was terrible," Murphy said. "This is probably one of the worst fires I ever been to."
Murphy added there were four smoke alarms in the building, but none of which appeared to be working, The Associated Press reported.
The news outlet reported that the alarms were last inspected in May 2021.
"This is without a doubt one of the most tragic days in our city's history — loss of so many people in such a tragic way," Mayor Jim Kenney said, a press conference Wednesday, according to CNN. "Losing so many kids is just devastating. Keep these babies in your prayers."
Preliminary information indicates companies arrived at 6:40 a.m. and found heavy fire coming from the second floor of a three-story rowhouse. It took 50 minutes to place the fire under control. More to come.— Philadelphia Fire (@PhillyFireDept) January 5, 2022