2-alarm Chinatown fire under control, residents evacuated

Action News is told there was a partial collapse at the building.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022
2-alarm Chinatown fire under control, residents evacuated
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One firefighter was taken to the hospital with a minor injury. No other injuries have been reported.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- An early morning fire Tuesday in the Chinatown section of Philadelphia displaced residents and took more than four hours to be placed under control.

The fire broke out around 2 a.m. Tuesday at 10th and Race streets.

The smoke could be seen for miles.

"I parked my car, and I was like, 'Oh my God- what happened?" said Henry Chow, who often comes to Chinatown for breakfast.

There is a fire station on the block and firefighters arrived at the scene almost immediately.

One hundred firefighters worked to place the flames under control.

Crews evacuated the building, which is made up of five apartment units and a business, Lucky Market, on the ground floor.

A neighboring apartment building was also evacuated.

Around a dozen people were displaced.

"Someone knocked on our door, and it was a pound, so I just knew something was not right, so just bolted," said Kathy Nguyen, who lives in the building next door to where the fire started.

The fire did spread to a third building on the other side, but Action News is told nobody was in that one.

People took what they could and ran.

Residents did not know how intense the fire was until they came downstairs and saw the smoke and heavy flames.

"Grabbed the cat- don't even have our phones or anything else," said John Williams of Chinatown.

"Went down the fire escape, and we started to see all these embers coming off the building to our right," Williams continued. "Then we walked around the other side and saw that the whole building was engulfed in flames."

The fire churned for hours. Around 4:15 a.m. there was a partial collapse of the roof.

"In this neighborhood, tight streets, water issues," stated Philadelphia Fire Captain Derek Bowmer, speaking of some of the challenges firefighters faced during the early morning battle.

One firefighter was taken to the hospital with a minor injury. No other injuries were reported.

"I heard them over the radio say they need an aerial view, and then ten minutes later I asked them, and he said it went through the roof," said Skylar Pittman who works nearby, recounting the firefighters' work.

Viewer video showed the flames tearing through the back of the building.

The fire was placed under control around 6:15 a.m.

Captain Bowmer said it's a tough day as the department is still coping with the loss of one of their own. Lieutenant Sean Williamson, a 27-year veteran most recently assigned to Ladder 18, was killed during a collapse following a fire in Fairhill on Saturday.

"We're dealing with the loss of our brother firefighter and this department continues to respond to seven or eight working fires a day," Bowmer said.

The Red Cross was on the scene to provide assistance. The cause of the fire is under investigation.