Philadelphia Officials Promise Transparency In Fatal Fire Follow-Up
By Mike Dunn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mayor Nutter says the Philadelphia Fire Department was preparing to release later today more detailed information, including 911 call tapes, spelling out the city’s response to the weekend blaze in Southwest Philadelphia that killed four children (see previous story).
And the mayor stressed that the focus should be not on that response but on how the fire started in the first place.
Nutter said tensions over the fire department’s response are being fueled by what he called “misinformation” spread by certain members of the community, and by the media:
“When people in the community have all of the facts, the data, and the details — and not rumor, innuendo, or in some instances just falsehoods — they at least will have a better understanding that … the men and women of Engine 40 and Ladder 4 absolutely did all that they can under the circumstances.”
The real issue, according to the mayor, is how the blaze started (see related story).
“Someone started that fire. Something started that fire. I don’t know what it is,” he said today. “We’re certainly waiting on the fire marshal to make a determination. But if a person was involved in this incident, they need to step forward. Or if someone knows of someone involved in this incident, they need to give us that information.”
Nutter called the debate over whether the initial 911 call about a couch on fire was properly classified as a trash fire was, in his words, “a red herring.”
“However the dispatcher may have technically classified it, or typed it into the system, a fire is a fire, and an appropriate engine company was dispatched,” he said.
In the meantime, Nutter urges calm and discourages citizens from blocking fire stations, as some community members attempted to do Monday night during protests over the fatal fire (another related story).