Baby dies after Delco house fire

March 20, 2009 7:35:06 PM PDT
A fast-moving house fire in Clifton Heights, Delaware County, has left a 16-month-old baby dead.A 911 call from neighbors around 3:30 Friday morning brought firefighters to a house on the 100 block of West Berkley Avenue.

When firefighters arrived, they found flames spitting out of both the first and second floors of the two-story row house.

Police say the dad, Thomas Pierce, was home with three children; the 16-month-old, an 8-year-old and a 10-year-old. The mother was at work.

Investigators say the fire started on the kitchen stove. Sources tell Action News the flames spread through the ventilation system to the second floor, waking up the two older children.

They ran downstairs and woke up Pierce, who was sleeping on the living room couch.

Pierce and the older children got out, but Pierce was unable to get back inside to go after the baby.

Neighbors say there was no way to get into the home.

"He was upset, he was really frantic. I mean, he had his older two children out, he was freaking out because the baby was still in the house," said neighbor Jim Lassiter. "We made all attempts, got ladders and climbed up there, but there was no way to go in. There was too much smoke."

Firefighters eventually got the baby out of the house and rushed the child to the hospital, but the baby was pronounced dead.

It took firefighters about a half hour to gain control of the blaze.

The community is reacting to this tragic blaze. "Chickie's," a deli where the mom often shops, is asking for donations.

Firefighters also met with counselors.

"We have a lot of young firefighters, this is the first time they've seen a fatality," said Chief Tom Kneass of the Clifton Heights Fire Department. "I got a lot of firefighters in their 20's and 30's with small children."

Authorities say arson has been ruled out as a cause, but because there was a death a police investigation is underway. No decision on charges is expected until next week.

There were no working smoke detectors found in the home.

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