Mother, daughter dead in West Phila. fire

WEST PHILADELPHIA - May 3, 2012

The two were trapped and killed in a building fire on the corner of Pennsgrove and Holly streets in West Philadelphia Thursday afternoon.

The fire broke out around 3:30 p.m.

Neighbors banged on the front of the home where five women were inside as the smoke billowed and the fire spread.

One woman was able to run out.

Firefighters rescued another from the roof and they found a third woman in a second floor room.

She had no vitals, but firefighters were able to resuscitate her.

"She's critical and under the doctor's care and we're praying that she has another shot at life," Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said.

The fire was brought under control just after 4:00 p.m.

Commissioner Ayers says once his firefighters were able to get control of the fire which started on the second floor, they soon realized they were dealing with what appears to be an illegal boarding house with several apartments.

Property records say the building is owned by a Charles Walker. Investigators haven't said if they've been able to reach him.

Ayers says the utilities including the gas were illegally hooked up and there was an elaborate alarm system that didn't work.

"Of course, with partnership with L&I, making sure we find out exactly what happened here," Ayers said.

One smoke alarm was found, but it had the battery pulled out.

Friday, the Red Cross and firefighters will walk around the community and hand out alarms.

"Because the only way we're going to stop these fire deaths is to literally go door to door throughout the city ensuring every family has a smoke alarm," Ayers said.

The city of Philadelphia has now marked its 15th and 16th fire deaths of the year.

The names of the victims have not been released.

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