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As Community Rallies Around Victims And Their Families, Mayor Nutter Visits Firehouse That Responded To Gesner Street Blaze

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By Walt Hunter

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Late Thursday afternoon, Mayor Michael Nutter and Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison visited the neighborhood firehouse less than a block away from where four children died in a fire early Saturday morning on the 6500 block of Gesner Street.

That firehouse was the site of protests Monday night claiming a slow response by fire units; however, city officials produced records showing all units arriving in under five minutes, the first in just 21 seconds.

“Our hearts and prayers are with those children,” Mayor Michael Nutter told CBS3’s Walt Hunter in an interview prior to his firehouse visit.

The Mayor called on all neighbors to help by providing any information they might have about the cause of the fire, which is still undetermined.

Donations from the homes and hearts of total strangers continued to build at a neighborhood church only a few feet from the charred rowhomes.

“We found a lot of stuff we don’t really need,” David Allen of Yeadon explained as he dropped off bags and boxes.”We hope we can bring even more.”

For the grieving families of the four young victims, a special gift, their funerals, a final resting place and memorials, all donated through the efforts of State Senator Anthony Williams and his staff.

“We’re going to provide a fitting memorial to those children,” the Senator told Hunter.

The mother of four-year-old twins Maria and Marialla Bowah, who died in the flames, remains hospitalized with injuries suffered saving her other three children, one of whom was also hurt.

Pastor Moses Dennis explained after a visit yesterday that he is encouraged that both mother and daughter are improving.

“She is still very shaken,” the Pastor said. “She hasn’t been able to put her head around all of what’s happened.”

Finally, Senator Williams called for a panel of national experts to look into the safety of rowhouses in Philadelphia, many aging and built with wood, in the hopes of preventing other fatal fires.

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