Careless smoking blamed in deadly fire

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - September 30, 2009 Investigators released that finding on Wednesday.

The fire department also said that no working smoke detectors were found in the home.

Flames broke out at about 12:25 a.m. Tuesday on the 2400 block of S. Warnock Street.

Heavy fire was showing on the first floor of the 2-story row house when firefighters arrived. It took about 25 minutes to get the fire under control.

Rescuers could hear screams from the second floor, and repeatedly tried to break down the front door.

Once inside, the body of 68-year-old Madeline Hart was found on the first floor. The second victim, a 73-year-old Robert Ermilo, was found on the second floor. Paramedics attempted to resuscitate the man, but to no avail.

Neighbors say the victims were an elderly brother and sister. Ermilo had been caring for his sister, who suffers from osteoporosis and deteriorating eyesight.

The fire department says Residents can obtain fire safety and education information at

Anyone who do not have a smoke alarm and cannot afford one should call the Smoke Alarm Hotline at 215-686-1176.

The Fire Department also offers a "Remembering When" fire and fall prevention training program for senior citizens located at local senior centers and or churches. For more information contact the Philadelphia Fire Prevention Division at 215-686-1382.

Copyright © 2023 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.