Philadelphia community gathers to remember 12 victims killed in duplex fire

"We would like to thank everyone for the kindness, generosity and prayers during this horrifying time," said a family spokeswoman.

Friday, January 7, 2022
Community gathers to remember 12 victims killed in duplex fire
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"We would like to thank everyone for the kindness, generosity and prayers during this horrifying time," said a family spokeswoman during a Thursday night vigil.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The community gathered on Thursday night to remember the 12 lives lost in a fire in Philadelphia's Fairmount neighborhood.

A sea of people covered the entire block of 22nd Street near Parrish in front of the Bache-Martin Elementary School.

There were many candles and balloons to honor the eight children and four adults who died in the blaze.

"We would like to thank everyone for the kindness, generosity and prayers during this horrifying time," said family spokeswoman Andrea Underwood.

Virginia Thomas, Rosalee McDonald and Quinsha White were killed in the fire, along with one other adult and eight children.

Two other victims remain hospitalized.

SEE ALSO: Warrant: 5-year-old playing with lighter might have started deadly Fairmount blaze

"We are waiting for additional information to move forward with the memorial service," said Underwood.

Meanwhile, the ATF has brought in its National Response Team (NRT) to assist with the investigation.

The Philadelphia Housing Authority says it authorized as many as 20 people to live in the two apartments out of consideration for intergenerational families who are accustomed to living under one roof.

But did the agency adequately consider the fire hazard posed by so many people living in such a small space?

"The quality of the units was not in question. The safety of the unit was not in question. I believe that we did what we needed to do," said PHA President and CEO Kelvin Jeremiah.

The Philadelphia Fire Marshal's Office says the building under normal circumstances was not required to have a fire escape.

SEE ALSO: What we know about the fire in Philadelphia's Fairmount section that killed 8 children, 4 adults

"It would be in a respect a single-family occupancy so the building was not constructed to have a fire escape," said Deputy Chief Dennis Merrigan.

An official cause of the fire has not yet been determined, but a 5-year-old child playing with a lighter near a Christmas tree may have caused the fire, sources tell Action News.

A GoFundMe page that's been set up for the victims has raised over $180,000. To learn how you can help, CLICK HERE.