Suspected squatter killed in Port Richmond house fire

March 29, 2013 10:39:17 AM PDT
One person is dead and a 74-year-old woman is hospitalized after fire spread from a vacant building to a neighboring home in Port Richmond early Friday morning.

Fire officials do not have a cause of the fire, but they do know someone was illegally living in that vacant home where the deadly fire began.

Fire crews responded to the Jasper Street blaze just before 2:00 a.m.

The fire was brought under control within 30 minutes, but firefighters discovered a body in the front bedroom on the second floor of the vacant home at 3325 Jasper.

A police officer helped 74-year-old Marion Roos out of the home next door and transported her to the hospital.

Roos lives at 3323 with her son Matthew and their two dogs. They all made it out alive.

"They had to take her to the hospital because she couldn't breathe," said Matthew Roos.

Matthew is not surprised the blaze happened at the abandoned property.

"This is the second fire," said Roos. "The first time I was in the hospital for smoke inhalation; this time it's my mother."

Fire officials say the property was reported to Licenses and Inspections and boarded up after a previous blaze, but Roos and other neighbors say 3325 is a constant nuisance, and a danger to everyone nearby.

"They say squatters there attract drugs and prostitution," said Roos.

"That has been an abandon house for years, and the dope heads and crack heads go in the alley or the back," said Janet McCollom.

"I have children here, so it's very upsetting. They are row homes, so the fires travel through the channels," said Charles Rawls.

The Red Cross is assisting the Roos family.

Action News has placed calls to Licenses and Inspections and the mayor's office, but so far there has been no response.