PHILADELPHIA, (CBS) – Philadelphia Fire officials are investigating a triple fatal house fire that claimed the lives of a grandmother and her two young grandchildren in Hunting Park. Firefighters responded to the 4200 block of North Reese Street just after 1 p.m. Saturday.
The assistant fire chief says there were no working smoke alarms inside the home.
Firefighters had to break down the front door to get to the family. No one inside the home got out alive.
Now a local woman has to prepare to bury her own two children and mother.
“It breaks my heart. It’s crazy,” said neighbor Aisha Rentes.
Fire crews arrived to the scene just 3 minutes after receiving the call.
“We had to breach that door to get inside and again they [firefighters] encountered a heavy fire load inside and it made it extremely difficult to move to get in,” said Assistant Chief Tony Sneidar.
Fire officials say furniture and clothing in the walkway inside the house also made it difficult to put out the fire. Fifty-seven firefighters and personnel got the fire under control in about an hour.
A search began and that’s when they found the woman and her two grandchildren.
“We did have the chance to have the mother here and speak with her and you could imagine she’s obviously distraught at this point. We’re trying to take care of her. The Red Cross has been working with her. I can’t even imagine,” said Sneidar.
“Everybody from here grew up with the lady. We all helped her, give her a hand if she needs a hand. I actually went to school with her daughter. Good people, very good people, but it’s crazy you know life,” said neighbor Jesus Laureano.
The police department and PECO are on the scene. The fire marshal is also investigating the cause.
Fire crews are working with neighbors to get them back inside their homes and make sure they have working smoke detectors.
Stay with CBSPhilly.com for this developing story.