Building that housed Philadelphia nonprofit destroyed in Francisville fire

Tuesday, February 20, 2024
Building that housed Philadelphia nonprofit destroyed in fire
Building that housed Philadelphia nonprofit destroyed in Francisville fire

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Charred and caved in, the building that housed the Mary Jane Home Enrichment Center will likely be torn down due to fire damage.

The flames broke out around 3:52 p.m. Monday on the 1600 block of Ridge Avenue in the Francisville section of Philadelphia.

Though the building is destroyed, the need for their help in the community remains.

"People have been calling me today for food and clothing and we don't have it. We don't have it," said John Williams, who runs the nonprofit with his mother.

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

For three and a half hours, fire engulfed the nonprofit on the corner of Ridge Avenue and Francis Street, tearing through the community haven of 53 years.

"We would take nothing, and make something. I don't know how but we did it. My biggest thing right now is missing my people," said Edna Williams.

Edna Williams founded the program. She and her son John run the donation center. John was inside as flames ignited, but was able to run over to Ladder 1 Engine 13 across the street.

Ladder 1 was first on the scene to help extinguish the flames. The ladder truck, decommissioned due to budget cuts in 2009, was recently reinstated in December thanks to new funding.

Philadelphia Fire Department provides update on Francisville building fire

"If we didn't have the Ladder here we don't know how long it would have taken," said John Williams.

As they come to grips with the loss, the Williams family is standing steadfast in their plans to keep providing for those in need.

"I'm employed by God, and I'm on an assignment. I'm 85 years old, and he didn't tell me to stop," said Edna Williams.

Investigators are still looking for a cause.

Action News has learned from fire officials that 17 people are currently displaced due to the fire.