Some residents allowed back in Old City homes after 4-alarm fire

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- City officials are allowing some residents back into their homes while others can only enter to retrieve items after a 4-alarm fire in Old City earlier this week.

On Wednesday, L&I officials cleared the following properties for re-occupancy:

229 Chestnut St
231 Chestnut St
233 Chestnut St
33 S 3rd St
35 S 3rd St
37-39 S 3rd St
32-42 S Bank St

Residents of homes that remain too unsafe to live in have been allowed to re-enter briefly to retrieve medications, documents, and other necessities. These properties include 241-43 Chestnut Street, 45 S. 3rd Street, 41-43 S 3rd Street, and 24 S. Bank Street.

In all cases, officials say residents should contact property managers to make arrangements for re-occupancy or retrieval of belongings.

EMBED More News Videos

Watch video from Chopper 6 over the aftermath of a major fire in Old City Philadelphia on February 19, 2018.

The fire broke out at 239 Chestnut Street shortly after 3 a.m. Sunday.

EMBED More News Videos

4-alarm fire breaks out in Old City. Bob Brooks reports during Action News at Noon on February 18, 2018.

Arriving firefighters found heavy smoke showing from a building with a store on the first floor and apartments on the above levels.

According to the commissioner, despite the fire alarm sounding, a number of people did not evacuate from their building.

"We had to go back into the buildings and tell people 'this is serious.' Despite the smoke, despite the fire alarm sounding, it's a serious thing, you never know what you're building is connected to, so we literally had people who were connected to the building that was on fire who had not evacuated," Commissioner Adam Thiel said.

EMBED More News Videos

Fire commissioner gives update on 4-alarm fire. Bob Brooks reports during Action News Mornings on February 18, 2018.

A second alarm was sounded around 4:20 a.m. The fire reached three alarms around 5:11 a.m., quickly followed by a fourth alarm.

The fire was brought under control shortly before 7:30 a.m.

Officials have determined that 24 S. Bank Street is physically connected to 237 Chestnut Street, one of the locations of the fire and of reoccurring hotspots. They say the building contains 60 residential units that cannot be reoccupied until fire alarm and other fire protection systems are repaired and a firewall is built between 24 S. Bank and 237 Chestnut.

To alleviate pressure on 239 Chestnut Street, where the fire originated, L&I removed the building's multi-story fire escape on Tuesday.

L&I officials say they are determining how best to stabilize neighboring buildings so that 239 Chestnut can be taken down safely and without causing further damage to these buildings.

EMBED More News Videos

Chestnut Street buildings to be demolished following fire: Sarah Bloomquist reports on Action News at 5 p.m., February 19, 2018

The Philadelphia Fire Department will maintain an engine at the location to continue to combat hotspots.

Officials say due to the size of the engine and of heavy construction and demolition equipment that will be needed at the location, in addition to concerns for pedestrian and driver safety, the following road closures will remain in effect:
Chestnut between S Bank and S 4th Streets
Elbow Lane between S Bank and S 3rd Streets
S Bank between Elbow Lane and Chestnut Street
S 3rd St between Elbow Lane and Walnut Street.

The investigation of the Fire Marshal's Office and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

Send a News Tip to Action News
Report a Correction or Typo
Learn More About 6abc Apps
Related topics:
philly newsfire
Copyright © 2022 WPVI-TV. All Rights Reserved.