By Elizabeth Hur
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – An 98-year-old woman was killed in a fire Sunday night at her West Philadelphia rowhome.
The fire started shortly before 5 p.m. at 57th and Poplar Streets. Witnesses tell CBS3 Eyewitness News family and friends ran into the burning home and tried to rescue their matriarch, but to no avail.
“Did hear her crying for help, the son actually went up, tried to make a rescue but was driven back by heat and fire,” explained Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.
Crews placed the fire under control in just under 40 minutes. Officials say their efforts were made more difficult due to not only the conditions outside, but what they found inside.
“A reconfiguration of the room, so they wound of having to putting the fire out in the middle of the room before they could even get around to the rear room,” Ayers said. “There was nothing they could do when they got in.”
Friends and neighbors described the victim as a sweet, Christian woman who was loved by all on the block.
Officials say, so far, they found no working smoke detectors in the home and call this a tragic reminder for all: to be vigilant.
“This is the 6th fire death in the city,” Ayers said. Of the six, this is the fifth senior, older adult. We ask all of our citizens to really pay attention to the elderly. She was immobile, she couldn’t move herself and she was trapped.”
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, but officials say, preliminarily, it appears the cause could be electrical in nature.