Survivors of fatal Fairmount fire describe terrifying scene, last-minute escape

"You could tell it was a lot of people, and you just hear a lot of screams," one of the survivors said.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- For the first time, we're hearing from some of the victims who survived the fire earlier this month in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia that left 12 people dead.

Tyhara Woods says she woke up to the screams of her neighbors... piercing sounds she will never forget.

"It was like, 'Oh my God!' It was like, 'No!" Help me!'" she recalled. "You could tell it was a lot of people, and you just hear a lot of screams."

"The loudest scream I heard was 'Oh my God!' It sounded like it was a kid," she said. "That's when we realized it was a fire and you actually see smoke from the boys' room."

RELATED: 'Near certainty' Fairmount fire ignited when Christmas tree set ablaze, Philadelphia officials say

Woods said she frantically scrambled to wake her three boys, ages 13, 7, and 6, from their beds.

Woods, her sons, and their dad, Charles Scott, lived in Unit A. Their home encompassed the first and part of the second floor of the three-story duplex.

"As she's going out the front door, the two oldest are going behind her, but they're half asleep so they're, like, walking slow and it's like 'pshhh pshhhh,'" Scott said, describing the sounds of the fire. "They get hit and that's when they speed up the process."

Scott said two oldest sons were injured by balls of fire.

EMBED More News Videos

Fairmount fire survivors say smoke alarms never sounded

"My youngest, he's still in the living room because he thinks he's going to school. I grabbed him and cradled him and ran out," he said. "Then the other kid, I ran back in... he was in the middle of the hallway."

That other kid, Scott says, lived upstairs.

"I went back in, grabbed him, and ran out," he said. "I just saw a kid that was in the hallway and he wasn't trying to leave. He pretty much looked confused and was calling for his mom. I wouldn't be able to live with myself to see that kid was in the hallway and I ran out and he wasn't there."

Fire investigators say there were no working smoke detectors in the upstairs unit, but according to preliminary findings, they believe the smoke alarms in Unit A were operating but didn't sound because their operating limits were not reached by smoke conditions.

Scott says their devices never sounded.

"The frustration is those things are there for a reason and we depend on them, that's supposed to give you a head start to get out, and it never happened," he said.

RELATED: Funeral services held for Fairmount fire victims at Liacouras Center
EMBED More News Videos

The obituaries of the 12 people killed in a fire earlier this month in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia were read aloud as photos of the victims were shown.

Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.