Deadly duplex fire takes toll on Philadelphia community, first responders

"I'm not doing well at all...we are human beings just like everybody else," said Captain Derek Bowmer.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It's been an incredibly difficult day for Philadelphia and for firefighters who responded to a deadly duplex fire on Wednesday morning.

"I'm not doing well at all. I mean personally, I have a job to do, this is what we do, but we are human beings just like everybody else," said Captain Derek Bowmer, the executive chief of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Fire officials said eight children are among at least 12 dead after a house fire erupted in the Fairmount section of the city on Wednesday morning, the deadliest fire in the city in more than a century.

Bowmer and all of the first responders on scene know what they signed up for -- to make saves, he said, and to put the fire out. First responders are there to help and when they can't, the tragedy takes a toll on them.

"It's anybody we treat children, adults, it's all the same we want everybody to go home. We want everybody to be saved. Property can go but human life can't," Bowmer said.

Neighbors from Fairmount and were huddled together closely on the streets in silence thinking about the piece of the community that's now missing.

"It's very somber today, it's very quiet out and it just seems very ominous today," said Matthew Meehan.

He said he has all the respect in the world for the firefighters and first responders on scene.

The loss doesn't end today, including for first responders. Bowmer said he's going to make sure their partnerships are ready to help anyone who needs it.

"We're hurting, the City of Philadelphia is hurting right now," said Bowmer.
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