Passersby, firefighters rescue family

February 7, 2008 3:21:01 PM PST
Three young children and their father barely escaped with their lives Thursday morning. They were able to get out of the inferno, thanks to quick working firefighters, and three men who just happened to be passing by.

The fire hit just before 10 a.m. near the intersection of 54th and West Thompson streets in West Philadelphia.

Kevin Smith and his friends were driving to work when they saw smoke pouring from the second floor. They ran inside to help and ran into a wall of flame and thick smoke.

"It was coming out of the bedroom door in the hallway, and I was trying to get past it to go into the backroom," Abdullah Rashid said.

"First, we were trying to make it up the steps, but, the fire must have been coming from the middle room because it was blazing all over the steps; we were just trying to duck the fire to get up to the kids," Kevin Smith said.

The men even tried crawling on the floor to stay under the smoke, but it was no use. They were relieved when firefighters arrived seconds later.

"We had heavy fire in the front and middle bedrooms with three people trapped inside. The companies did a great job, they got inside real quick; they removed one adult male and two children," Chief Joe Schulle of the Philadelphia Fire Department said.

30-year-old Hafiz Coffy and his 4-year-old son were the most seriously injured. Both were in critical condition when they arrived at the hospital.

His two daughters were also taken in with minor injuries.

Coffy's father says they are showing signs of improvement.

"My granddaughters are okay. My grandson and my son are still in the hospital receiving treatment for smoke inhalation. My son, right now, is not doing as well as his son is doing, but we are hoping for the best," Ellis Coffy said.

The Coffy family lived on the top floor of the duplex where the fire started in the middle bedroom. Three people who lived on the first floor are now being given temporary shelter and financial assistance from the Red Cross.