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I-Team: No Medics Available To Assist House Fire Victims, 10-Year-Old Critical

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Albert Blassengale

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A young Philadelphia boy was critically injured in a house fire late Monday evening and now there are questions about the fire department’s response time.

The fire started at about 10 p.m. inside a home in the 1800 block of N. 27th Street in the city’s Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.

Neighors tried to save 10-year-old Albert Blassengale who was trapped in the home, but couldn’t make it past the heat.

Members of Ladder Co. 14 were able to battle their way through the heat and flames to reach him.

Paramedics performed CPR on the young victim before rushing him to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers says the first three companies to normally respond to the fire location were already on medical emergencies.

As a result, Ladder 14, which does not carry water, did not have a hose line to fight off the flames as they entered the home.

“I was like, where’s the water, where’s the water,” said Eyewitness Deborah Leatherby, “and they had to wait for another fire truck to come with the water.

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Engine Co. 13, located a mile and a half from the scene, arrived with water.

“Engine 13, who is normally fourth due, had to come in to the job. Their travel time was somewhere around five minutes to get here, when normally this neighborhood enjoys a time of about three minutes or four minutes at the most,” Ayers said.

Neighbors wonder if more engines with more water were available sooner, might it have made a difference.

According to fire records obtained by the CBS 3 I-Team, no medic units were available to be dispatched to the home.

“The little boy Albert was in there actually suffering and fighting for his life, that hurts me to my heart,” said a neighbor.

Ayers said the home did have working smoke detectors. The fire was placed under control in approximately 20 minutes.

No other injuries were reported.

Reported by Walter Hunter, CBS 3
 

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