On the morning of January 5, 2022, the Philadelphia Fire Department (PFD) responded to a fatal house fire on the 800 block of N. 23rd St. The City continues to respond to and investigate this horrific incident.
This blog provides information on:
- Resources for residents
- How you can help
- Latest updates
January 11, 2022
An investigation by the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Fire Marshal’s Office, with support from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and others, indicated with near certainty that the fire began after a lighter was applied to a Christmas tree. You can watch the recorded press conference with these updates online.
The 12 people who died in the fire died of smoke inhalation, according to the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s Medical Examiner’s Office. There were nine children and three adults.
January 7, 2022
The Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) is working with both families to establish long-term housing solutions.
PHA is serving as a point of contact for all donation offers for the families. Offers for donations can be made by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 215-684-5300. PHA reports that both families have indicated that they are not currently seeking material donations. In the coming days and weeks, PHA will continue to communicate with both families regarding needs and resources.
January 6, 2022
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) Philadelphia Division announced on Twitter that the agency activated the National Response Team to assist the Philadelphia police and fire departments in the response to yesterday’s fire.
The Friends and Family Center operated by the Office of Emergency Management has closed. Ongoing coordination with families is being carried out through community provider organizations, like the American Red Cross, who are partners with the City.
January 5, 2022
As of 7:15 p.m.
Fire officials now confirm that 12 people—eight children and four adults—died in the fire on N. 23rd Street. That total is one less than the number reported in an earlier press conference when recovery operations were still ongoing.
Fire officials also offered more details about the incident response. Firefighters immediately entered the building to find heavy smoke, heat, and limited visibility on all floors. They made an aggressive attack on the fire, raising multiple ladders to exterior windows and the roof, and conducting search-and-rescue efforts throughout the interior. Firefighters were able to rescue one child from the building, but the child did not survive.
This complex and multifaceted fire investigation will take time to complete. The PFD Fire Marshal’s Office is the lead agency, with vital assistance from the Philadelphia Police Department and federal ATF. The PFD will offer a full briefing when the investigation concludes.
As of 10:45 a.m.
Fire 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.
Preliminary information released at this morning’s news conference indicated that 13 people were killed in the fire, including seven children, and two others were hurt. However, recovery operations were still underway at that time, and First Deputy Commissioner Craig Murphy said those numbers could change.
The cause of the fire is under investigation by the PFD Fire Marshal’s Office in cooperation with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). The Medical Examiner’s Office will determine the causes of death.
The property is owned, operated, and inspected by the Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA). It had two units, which were inspected by the PHA in April 2021 and May 2021, respectively. All smoke detectors were operating properly at those times, according to PHA representatives. However, the smoke alarms were not working during the fire on Wednesday, according to fire officials.
A Family and Relatives Center was opened by the Office of Emergency Management with the American Red Cross and Salvation Army at Bache-Martin Elementary School, located on N. 22nd & Parrish Street.
Resources for residents
Request free smoke alarms and smoke alarm installation
You can request smoke alarms through Philly311 (via the app or by phone), and the Fire Department will install them in your home. You should have one alarm on each floor of your home, including the basement. If you already have working smoke alarms, you should understand the sounds they make.
To receive smoke alarms, you must live in the City of Philadelphia in a one- or two-family home that is occupied by the owner. If you live in an apartment building, or are renting a house, the landlord must provide smoke alarms on every level of the home. If your landlord has not provided smoke alarms, call Philly311 to report the violation.
Friends and Relatives Center
A Friends and Relatives Center was opened by the Office of Emergency Management with the American Red Cross and Salvation Army at Bache-Martin Elementary School, located on N. 22nd & Parrish Street. The purpose of the center is to assist family and friends looking for information on loved ones and establish a central location for city and partner services for those affected.
The American Red Cross is providing emergency assistance for a family of 5 displaced from the first floor of this morning’s fire. Red Cross teams are also providing ongoing support for the family of those who lost their lives.
Information on the status of the Friends and Relatives center will be updated in this blog.
The Philly HopeLine
This is difficult news and especially challenging for children. For support processing with your child, consider the Philly HopeLine. The free helpline is staffed by clinicians from Uplift Center for Grieving Children, and is open to all Philadelphia students and their families. Call 1-833-PHL-HOPE for support.
The HopeLine is available:
- Monday–Thursday: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Friday: 1 to 4 p.m.
Mental health resources
- The Medical Examiner’s Office (MEO) offers free bereavement support to grieving individuals. For sudden, unexpected deaths of most Philadelphia infants, children, and teens, they offer counseling by phone or in your home. Call (215) 685-7402 to learn more.
- Healthy Minds Philly offers many free mental health resources including crisis support, grief and loss, and anxiety and depression.
How you can help
PHA is serving as a point of contact for all donation offers for the families. Offers for donations can be made by email at email@example.com or by phone at 215-684-5300. PHA reports that both families have indicated that they are not currently seeking material donations.
The School District of Philadelphia requests that residents do not drop off clothing or food donations at Bache-Martin Elementary school. At this moment, there are no donation needs from the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army. All agencies are appreciative of the outpouring from people who want to help. We will update this post if any donation requests are made.
We urge you to take this time to check your household’s smoke alarms to ensure that they are properly installed and working. Please also check with neighbors and loved ones to ensure that they also have working smoke alarms. If you need smoke alarms, please submit a request to Philly311.