Remembering the victims: Procession held for 12 people killed in Fairmount fire

Eight children and four adults were killed in the fire on N. 23rd Street in Philadelphia's Fairmount section.

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Thursday, January 6, 2022
Procession held for victims killed in deadly Philly fire
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Chopper 6 was overhead as a procession was held for the victims killed in a deadly duplex fire in Philadelphia on January 5, 2022.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A procession of law enforcement vehicles transported the bodies of 12 people to the medical examiner's office roughly 12 hours after one of the deadliest fires in Philadelphia's history.

The victims -- eight children and four adults -- perished in the blaze that ripped through a multi-story duplex in the city's Fairmount neighborhood Wednesday morning.

Chopper 6 was overhead as officials escorted the bodies away from the fire scene.

Family members on Facebook have identified two of the victims as sisters Rosalee McDonald, 33, and Virginia Thomas, 30. The siblings each had multiple children but it's unclear if all of them were home at the time of the fire or how many of them died.

The close-knit Fairmount community gathered as they could during the pandemic with a vigil over Zoom Wednesday night.

Liberti Fairmount Church hosted the event to allow people to pray and remember the victims.

A guidance counselor at Bache Martin School, where some of the youngest victims were enrolled, told those at the vigil, there's no right way to grieve.

Bache-Martin is virtual this week, but counseling and crisis therapy will be provided to students.

SEE ALSO: Relatives share photos of victims killed in Philly blaze

There was no immediate word on the cause of this fire, but sources tell Action News that investigators are looking into the possibility the blaze might have been sparked after a child started a Christmas tree fire.

Sources say most, if not all, of the fatalities were from Unit B.

The fire department said it took about 50 minutes to bring the fire under control.

There were no working smoke detectors in the home, fire officials said.

Action News has learned there were seven smoke detectors and three carbon monoxide detectors in one of the apartments, and six smoke detectors with three carbon monoxide detectors in the other as of the last inspection in the spring of 2021.

SEE ALSO: 8 children among at least 12 dead after duplex fire in Fairmount section of Philadelphia