Family members of the 12 individuals who died in a fire at a rowhouse in Philadelphia gathered on the steps of a nearby elementary school on Thursday for a short vigil, crying and supporting one another in the bitter cold of the evening. One of the family members provided an account of the terrible toll, which included three sisters and nine of their kids and daughters. Hundreds of people stood silently in response.
According to a warrant application filed in state court, investigators who are investigating the incident are looking into the likelihood that it was started by a youngster playing with a lighter near a Christmas tree.
The warrant application, which was first reported by The Philadelphia Inquirer and later verified by a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, was required in order for police detectives to obtain entry to the flat, according to the newspaper. In a statement issued on Thursday, officials stressed that the inquiry was in its early stages and that no conclusions had been reached.
Many details surrounding the fire, which engulfed the top floors of a three-story rowhouse in the city’s Fairmount area soon before daybreak on Wednesday morning, were unclear. Apart from stating that many agencies, including the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, were looking into the matter, the investigators offered little nothing further.
According to officials with the Philadelphia Housing Authority, which owns the building, they did speak with media on Thursday about why 18 people were in the four-bedroom upstairs unit when the fire started.
According to Kelvin Jeremiah, president and chief executive officer of the housing authority, the family had six members when they moved into the flat in 2011. Mr. Jeremiah said that the family had grown to 14, which was the maximum number of persons permitted to reside there under the existing lease, a decade later.
He ascribed the fact that there were probably four additional individuals in the flat at the time of the fire to the fact that it was the Christmas season. According to Mr. Jeremiah, “this is the time of year when family gets together.” “We will not be judgmental of the families who have endured this unspeakable tragedy,” said the committee.
On Thursday, neighbours who had been watching the comings and goings of inhabitants for years recalled the families, and in particular, all of the children who had been killed in the area.
Ms. McDonald’s father would often attend her basketball games and cheer her on, after which he would shake Mr. Wright’s hand. In every instance, he expressed gratitude to us and expressed his gratitude for the fact that it was two brothers from the neighbourhood that helped him, according to the witness. The fact that we were from the community and supporting kids from the neighbourhood was something he was really insistent on. ”
Since the fire, the Bache-Martin primary school has functioned as the community’s focal point, serving as a place where families have congregated in sadness, where leaders have spoken, and where hundreds gathered for a candlelight vigil on Thursday night, among other things. Quintien Tate-McDonald, 16, was one among the casualties. He attended school there and returned after graduating to work as a part-time yard cleaner after he finished. Kristin Luebbert, who taught him in seventh grade, noted that he kept up with his peers and his instructors.
According to Ms. Luebbert, who began teaching at Bache-Martin in 2001 and has since left the school, the rising cost of living has made it difficult for many of her pupils’ families to stay in the area as a result of her teaching. Her family has seen as corner businesses have closed and families have unwillingly relocated to more affordable portions of the city throughout her three decades of living there.
She wondered whether Mr. Tate-family McDonald’s had chosen to live in that one apartment rather than finding a bigger unit in a different location because they had a strong attachment to the area.