Fire breaks out at Philadelphia home where 154 jugs of gasoline were found

Neighbors said tensions flared Monday night after investigators removed more than 100 gasoline-filled containers from the home.

Wednesday, August 3, 2022 5:12AM
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Neighbors said tensions flared Monday night after investigators removed more than 100 gasoline-filled containers from the home.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The site of an unusual and dangerous discovery in West Philadelphia has been decimated by fire less than 12 hours after the initial investigation began.

More than 150 jugs of gasoline were found in the vacant home on the 100 block of 59th Street near Arch Street around 8 p.m. Monday.

At 9:50 a.m. Tuesday, the home was on fire.

Chopper 6 over the scene showed smoke coming from the home. Several firefighters could be seen battling the fire on the roof.

Photos taken earlier from the scene showed flames shooting from the front of the house.

The fire was placed under control just after 10:30 a.m.

Pictured: A fire at a home in the 100 block of North 59th Street in West Philadelphia on Tuesday where more than 150 jugs of gasoline were found.
Casey Adams

Officials said no one was inside at the time and there was no word on the cause of the fire.

Neighbor Malachi Allen lives two doors down from the home.

"When I looked outside, I saw the house two doors down was burning very fast. So, I immediately came out of the house and came across the street, then the house next door caught fire," Allen said.

Firefighters quickly gained the upper hand, but a few homes on either side were severely damaged.

One firefighter was injured battling the fire. He was taken to the hospital in stable condition.

There was another fire at the home back in March.

This latest development brings up even more questions to a troubling investigation.

Before the fire, Action News spoke with a man who identified himself as Darren Arnold. He said the home where the 154 one-gallon milk jugs filled with gasoline were found was owned by his family.

Authorities confirmed to Action News that Arnold was questioned Monday night, but he was released due to lack of a chargeable offense, and a lack of eyewitness accounts of anyone bringing fuel into that home.

Police are calling him a person of interest, though, he said he's innocent and doesn't know where the fuel came from.

"We are all going to get to the bottom of everything about, you know, getting along with one another, figure out what happened. That's it," Arnold said.

Neighbors said they are not surprised by what has unfolded over the past 24 hours.

An apparent feud between Arnold and the people who live nearby has been lingering for quite a while. Neighbors said those tensions flared Monday night after investigators removed those gasoline-filled containers.

"A little scuffle happened. It was over, but he said, 'This whole block is going to pay for what you did to me and my family,'" recalled Casey Adams, who lives nearby.

"Yeah, he's been a nuisance for a while," added resident Shinez Johnson.

No one from this community has been able to fully explain the misunderstanding between Arnold and his neighbors.

Emergency crews responded to the scene Monday night after neighbors reported a strong smell of gas coming from the home.

The Department of Licenses and Inspections and the fire department removed the dozens of containers from the home, placing them into larger drums.

Police called the situation very dangerous, adding that the gasoline could have fueled a blaze down the entire city block.

"With that much accelerant- that's 154 gallons of gasoline in a property that already caught fire and it's the summertime. Everything's hot. Everything's dry. The potential was there for a major catastrophe," Small said.

It's still unclear why so much gasoline was inside the vacant home.

Police said it could be arson-related, or, it's possible, someone was selling gas due to the record prices at the pump.