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Family Killed In West Philadelphia House Fire

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By Jim Melwert, Dray Clark, Oren Liebermann

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A West Philadelphia row house fire left four people dead, including two children.

The blaze broke out inside the home at 5200 Chancellor St. about 4:40 a.m. Monday and was placed under control at 5:25 a.m.

A neighbor says the father was just coming home from work when he found he had lost almost his entire family — his two children, two-year-old Jaden and four-year-old Cynsere; their mother, 23-year-old Rishya Jenkins; and their grandfather, Senaca (Charles) McClenden.

“He was great. He will truly be missed, along with everyone else in the house,” said Seneca McClenden’s niece, Daja Forrest.

Next-door neighbor Esther Woods says the children’s father came home to see his house on fire.

“He had just arrived home from work, and they had to restrain him because he was trying to run in to save his family, but he could not get in because the flames were too high at that point.”

The two children were taken to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where they were pronounced dead. The grandfather was also pronounced dead at a local hospital.

The mother was found dead inside the home.

“She loved ‘em. Took ‘em anywhere. Do anything for them. That’s why she was still in there trying to get her boys out of there,” said Rishya Jenkins’ cousin, Nikia Peterson.

Philadelphia fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers says they did not find any working smoke detectors in the home.

“We have searched high and low, and we have not found any working smoke alarms in the home. They didn’t get an early warning.”

Ayers says that despite warm temperatures and dry air, the weather is not the biggest factor in this case.

“It’s about having working smoke alarms, so you can get an early warning, get out of your house and not fall victim to a fire.  We don’t know the cause yet, but we know that, with an early warning, you can get out of your house.”

Two nearby homes were evacuated. The local Red Cross is assisting those families.

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