Heater blamed for fire that killed 2 in Germantown

GERMANTOWN - November 29, 2012

Theresa Lukert and her roommate Beaufort Davis died from injuries sustained inside their home on the 6300 block of North Beechwood Street.

"They were best friends, two good people," said one victim's grandson, Juice Wood. "Best friends forever."

Family members were reeling upon hearing their loved ones lost their lives in the fast-moving fire. Word quickly traveled on the 63-hundred block of North Beechwood Street in Germantown that the two long-time residents, who were roommates, perished.

Neighbors say Theresa Lukert was Beaufort Davis' sister-in-law, and that Davis had moved in years ago to help after his brother died.

"He would come, put your trash out," said Tonya Sharkey, ""take your trash cans, put them in your alleyway for you. He would cut the lot down."

911 calls started coming in around 3:00 a.m. Wednesday. The first firefighters to arrive went into action immediately. The flames were heavy on the second floor, blowing out the windows.

"The fire just wouldn't go out upstairs," said neighbor Joyce Brown. "It just kept burning and burning. Every time you thought it was out, it was burning again."

When firefighters got to the second floor, they discovered Davis and pulled him out. He was rushed to Einstein Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Lukert had already succumbed when firefighters found her.

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says it appears Davis had been trying to battle the flames himself.

"In the bathroom, we found water running. We found a bucket in there," said Ayers. "So we're going to take a look at it. We're telling you, call 911. Do not try to fight the fire."

The fire commissioner says there were smoke alarms inside the home, but they weren't maintained. One was corroded. Another was found chirping in a downstairs drawer.

Still, responding firefighters recalled at least one detector upstairs going off. Later, they found potential electrical hazards as they inspected the home.

"A lot of bad things," said Ayers. "As soon as we walk in we see electrical wires wrapped around nails, extension cords all over the place."

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