"They couldn't get out. There was too many stuff in there. They heard somebody screaming," said neighbor Angel Nebot.
When firefighters arrived at the scene in the 4200 block of North Reese Street just after 1 p.m., they were met with a challenge.
"Extremely hazardous conditions made it very difficult," said Philadelphia Asst. Chief Tony Sneidar.
Inside was a grandmother in her 60s and two of her grandchildren under the age of 10. They couldn't make it through the smoke and piles of belongings packed inside the rowhome.
"When the smoke was coming, you couldn't see nothing. So can you imagine inside," said Nebot.
Another neighbor, Jean Rodriguez said, "I was just praying that she wasn't in there."
The woman and children did not make it out.
"Our firefighters are the best in the country. It affects every one of them, every one of us and some of them will feel like they failed today. And that's absolutely not true because we feel that we want to make a difference, every one of us does, and it's a challenge," said Chief Sneidar.
Grandmother with mobility issues & 2 grandchildren couldn’t make it out of the home. There were no working smoke detectors inside the house that was filled with excess belongings, making it difficult to move around. @6abc— Maggie Kent (@MaggieKent6abc) January 5, 2019
"Very sweet kids, always playing outside and they had respect for their grandma. I said they're all going to heaven, no matter what," said Rodriguez.
The Red Cross is helping the mother of the children, who arrived at the scene obviously distraught.
Firefighters say after sifting through debris in the home they discovered no working smoke detectors.
Inside this tragic story is a reminder to keep and maintain working smoke detectors.
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