Fire in West Philadelphia damages 8 homes, displaces residents

Antionette Lee
February 22, 2020 - 5:19 pm
The site of a fire along Walnut Street near 61st Street in West Philadelphia. Eight rowhomes were damaged, displacing more than 20 residents.

Antionette Lee/KYW Newsradio

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — More than 20 residents were displaced and at least eight rowhomes were damaged after a massive fire in West Philadelphia Saturday afternoon.

Officials said it broke out shortly before noon along Walnut Street near 61st Street. It took firefighters about a half-hour to control.

Residents like Debbie Brown were grateful no one was hurt.

"I'm just feeling really thankful and the American Red Cross has been absolutely fabulous and encouraging and supportive but you know God is good," she said. "They saved my dog and my cat. If I don't feel nothing else, I feel thankful."

Cleo Taylor recalled the chaos of the moment. "I opened my door and smelled smoke, and looked down and saw the house engulfed in flames," she said. "I just started screaming, 'Get out the house! Get out the house!'"

Thanks to Taylor's urgency, her family was able to evacuate safely, including her 11-month-old grandchild.

"It was so fast. I've never seen anything like it before," she recounted.

Tony Wilson helped salvage what they could from the aftermath. "You could be sitting down one moment and relaxing, and then the next thing you know, something happens, so you just gotta go get out," he said.

The cause is under investigation.

KYW Newsradio's John McDevitt contributed to this story.