With at least 12 dead, the Fairmount fire the deadliest fire in Philadelphia in the century – CBS Philly
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A fire Wednesday morning in the Fairmount neighborhood of Philadelphia left at least 12 people dead – including eight children. It was the deadliest fire in Philadelphia in at least a century.
So many deaths in a single fire are almost unheard of in Philadelphia.
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Eyewitness News spoke with a historian who said he couldn’t think of a blaze that claimed more civilian lives than the one on Wednesday. He said there could be changes to city regulations once the investigation is completed.
“One of the most serious fires in the city’s history,” said Brian Anderson, curator of the Fireman’s Hall Museum in Philadelphia.
Anderson says Wednesday morning’s blaze will be one of the deadliest in town. But he remembers other dark days in the city’s history.
In 1975, eight firefighters and a police officer were killed in the Gulf Refinery fire in South Philly. First responders were killed in an explosion hours after the first call for fire.
“This was due to the leak of the flammable fluid that was in the cylinders and was triggered by the exhaust from the device located near the ground, under the device,” Anderson said.
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One of the city’s most infamous fires occurred in May 1985. It was dubbed the MOVE bombing after Philadelphia police dropped a bomb on a neighborhood in West Philly. It was a botched attempt to arrest members of the MOVE group, but it razed an entire neighborhood.
“The tragedy claimed the lives of 11 people – five children and six adults and six city blocks,” Anderson said.
In February 1991, three firefighters were killed in the Meridian Bank fire. The building opposite the Town Hall was one of the tallest buildings in the city at the time. The fire started on the 22nd floor and before being extinguished, spread to the 30th floor.
Firefighters were killed by smoke inhalation. Anderson says this has led to changes in the city’s fire regulations.
“It came about having fire extinguishing sprinkler systems, updating the fire prevention code on what should be in place in these skyscrapers, unfortunately using the three deceased firefighters from the engine 11 that day, ”Anderson said.
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The city’s deadliest fire took place in 1901 when 22 people were killed in a downtown furniture store.