Investigators search for cause after massive fire in Philadelphia's Francisville section

Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Investigation into cause of massive Francisville fire
It took firefighters roughly three and half hours to get it under control after initially spreading quickly.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Investigators are working to determine the cause of a massive fire that burned for hours in Philadelphia's Francisville neighborhood Monday. An older three-story building and new five-story building were both damaged.

The flames broke out around 3:52 p.m. on the 1600 block of Ridge Avenue.

Firefighters say people were inside the two buildings when the flames broke out. Officials say someone ran and knocked on the door to alert crews at Ladder 1 and Engine 13, which was a short block away.

Crews rushed to the scene and quickly got to work.

Chopper video showed heavy fire pouring from the third floor of the building.

Chopper video captures massive fire on Ridge Avenue in Philadelphia on Feb. 19, 2024.

Roughly 120 firefighters fought the raging blaze for more than three hours as it spread to a nearby four-story building.

"Stubborn, can't get above it, can't get in it to put water right on the fire. Eventually it goes out. Eventually," said Assistant Deputy Commissioner Derek Bowmer.

It was deemed under control around 7:30 p.m.

According to Bowmer, all residents have been accounted for, but several evacuations were ordered in the area due to the flames.

People on their way home from work stopped in awe.

"It's a big fire. I was hoping no one was in there, it doesn't look like it's going out anytime soon," said Mark Williams of South Philadelphia before crews got the upper hand.

Philadelphia Fire Department provides update on Francisville building fire

Bowmer said firefighters from the newly reopened Ladder 1 were the first to respond. The firehouse, which had been out of service since 2009, reopened in December 2023.

At last count, fire officials say 20 people have possibly been displaced. They also say that one of their main goals for Tuesday is to try to get the neighborhood back to some normalcy.

No injuries were reported. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.