Officials identify woman killed in 2-alarm fire in Jenkintown, Pa.; several firefighters injured

Suzanne Whitehead, 69, was found unconscious on the second floor and later died at a local hospital.

6abc Digital Staff Image
Sunday, July 3, 2022
EMBED <>More Videos

Montgomery County authorities released the name of the victim who was killed in the 2-alarm fire in Jenkintown.

JENKINTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- Montgomery County authorities released the name of the victim who was killed in the 2-alarm fire in Jenkintown.

The incident happened Friday just after 7:30 p.m. on the 200 block of Summit Avenue.

The victim, identified as 69-year-old homeowner Suzanne Whitehead, was found unconscious on the second floor and later died at a local hospital.

"They pulled me off at the scene and told me that she didn't make it. That's when I just broke down and lost my control," said volunteer firefighter Kevin Plunkett. "I've known her more than 10-years. I was hoping she was gone or out of town with family."

Plunkett says Whitehead was well-known in the community and long time attendee at the Immaculate Conception Church.

She was recently honored with a 15 year award for service through the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, where she was a first grade prep teacher.

It's still not clear how the fire began.

Authorities say there's no evidence the fire was intentional.

Chief Ken Lynch with Jenkintown Fire Department says a number of factors made battling this fire difficult. That included extreme temperatures, smoke and the condition of the home.

"We had a lot of issues last night at the fire. We had high heat temperatures, high humidity, the intense heat from the fire. The interior of her house was compromised due to hoarding conditions. It made fire attack difficult. It made entry difficult," said Fire Chief Ken Lynch.

Several firefighters were treated for heat-related issues, and two were transported to a local hospital, one for a possible heart attack and another for heat exhaustion.

Another firefighter received treatment for a minor burn.

People living on the other side of the duplex were able to escape without injury.

A family member told Action News their side of the duplex had smoke damage. They are staying with relatives.