PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The cause of a fast moving fire that claimed the life of little boy in the city’s Grays Ferry section Friday morning has been determined. The boy’s mother and brother are hospitalized with life threatening injuries.
Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers:
“We have discovered that the cause of the fire was a child playing with a lighter.”
Firefighters responded to the scene in the 1500 block of Corlies Street at about 8:30 a.m. to find four children trapped on the second floor of a two-story row home.
“We took several toddlers to the hospital,” said Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers. “One child died in the fire.”
A family friend says a 2-year-old named Sincere is the one who passed away.
Neighbors say the mother, Nina Pitkow, was at one point seen standing on the roof pleading for help. Officials tell Eyewitness News that the mother received 2nd degree burns to 10 percent of her body.
Neighbors say her 3-year-old son’s name is Tristan. According to the Fire Commissioner, he’s in critical condition. His 4-year-old sister Jayla is alert, talking and being treated for smoke inhalation.
Another young boy, identified by neighbors as 8-month-old Jerimiah, is in intensive care, according to the Philadelphia Fire Department. Two other children who lived at the residence, ages 9 and 7, were in school when the fire started.
Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says firefighters arrived on the scene minutes after the call. They had to get through heavy smoke and flames on the first floor to reach the victims.
“Firefighters removed several toddlers from the building, one of which, unfortunately, was deceased,” said Ayers.
Firefighters were able to bring the blaze under control in about thirty minutes.
Ironically, there was a working smoke alarm in every room of the house in the 1500 block of Corlies Street.
Commissioner Ayers says the mother made a common but tragic mistake:
“The mother tried to extinguish the fire, but they ended up being trapped on the second floor.”
The commissioner says smoke alarms are just that: warning devices. His advice:
“Once you hear that smoke alarm go off, or once you’re sure you have a fire, get out, stay out, call the fire department.”
Reported by: Jericka Duncan, CBS 3; Molly Daly, Kim Glovas & Margie Smith, KYW Newsradio