Homicide investigation underway after 2 killed in Tioga-Nicetown house fire

Law enforcement sources told Action News an accelerant was used inside the front door.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police say a deadly house fire in the city's Tioga-Nicetown section is now a homicide investigation.

Officials said the fire started just before 4 a.m. in the 1400 block of Jerome Street.

Two people were pulled from the second floor of the home and were taken to area hospitals. Both of the victims died a short time later.

Officials said the fire was placed under control at about 4:20 a.m.

Police are awaiting autopsies to confirm the cause of death, but the department has taken over the investigation.

Esrick Copeland identified one of the victims as his nephew, Josh Chase.

Copeland said he's fed up with the growing homicides in Philadelphia, but this one is especially heartbreaking.

"Everybody is getting killed, but this terrible since people burnt to death. That's real terrible, they had no chance to survive," said Copeland.

Copeland is trying to understand why his nephew may have been murdered inside his own home. Law enforcement sources tell Action News an accelerant was used inside the front door.

"It's terrible, who would do something like that to a human being, especially that time in the morning. Probably he know they were asleep," said Copeland.

Neighbors said Chase had lived in the home for years and worked as a mechanic.

"He was a good guy. He fixed my car a couple times," said Brandon Ballard, a neighbor. "He was the neighborhood mechanic."

Fire officials said the blaze started on the first floor and do not believe the home had a working smoke detector.

"This is a tragedy, it's very sad to hear that somebody lost they life," said Star Charleston, a neighbor.

There was no word on what started the fire.

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