City of Philadelphia releases timeline of fire department's response to fatal Fairmount fire

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Thursday, January 6, 2022
Philly releases timeline of fire department's response to fatal blaze
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Firefighters were on their way two minutes after the first call came in, the city said.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The City of Philadelphia has released more information on the fire department's response time to the deadly blaze at a Fairmount duplex that killed 12 people including eight children.

It was the deadliest fire the city has seen in more than a century.

City officials said in a press release that police radio received 36 calls to 911 between 6:36 a.m. and 6:39 a.m. on Wednesday concerning the fire on the 800 block of N. 23rd Street.

"The first call was received at 6:36:28 and was answered immediately," the city said.

Officials said the call taker retrieved the information regarding the location of the fire and transferred the call to fire communications at 6:37:12 a.m.

The call was answered on two rings, the city said.

Firefighters were then sent on their way two minutes after that first call came in.

"Fire personnel were dispatched and enroute at 6:38:27. The first Philadelphia Fire Department company arrived on scene at 6:40 a.m.," the city said.

The first firefighters arrived four minutes from the time of the first call.

It took 50 minutes for crews to place the fire under control.

Qaadira and Jacuita Purifoy told Action News they lost their three sisters and their sisters' eight children in the fire.

The city said the property is owned, operated and inspected by the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

The two units in the property were inspected by the PHA in April and May of 2021, respectively. According to the PHA, all smoke detectors were operating properly at those times.

On Wednesday, fire officials said there were no working smoke detectors in the duplex at the time of the fire.

It is not yet known why the smoke detectors were not working.

Fire officials said 18 people were living in the upstairs apartment known as Unit B, which was comprised of the 2nd and 3rd floors of the duplex. Another eight people lived in Unit A, comprised of the 1st floor and part of the 2nd floor.

However, PHA said they were only aware of 14 residents in Unit B when they did their last occupancy recertification in October.

There was no immediate word on the cause of the fire, but sources tell Action News that investigators are looking into the possibility the blaze might have been sparked after a child started a Christmas tree fire.

The cause remains under investigation by the Philadelphia Fire Department Fire Marshal's Office. The Medical Examiner's Office will determine the causes of death.