Fire investigators say a portable heater is responsible for sparking a deadly rowhome fire in Germantown that killed a woman and a young boy.
Crews were called to the 5900 block of Wistar Street before 9:30 a.m.
"I was just driving by and didn't think anything until I saw smoke. When I backed up, I saw the baby on the porch. I ran up the porch and grabbed the baby," said Jamela Ayers.
Ayers screamed for help. She had no idea who the baby belonged to or who left the 9-month-old boy on the porch of the burning home.
"I saw smoke coming from the house. When I kicked the door in, I saw a little fire. I tried to get the neighbor's hose to put the fire out. By the time I got to the door, the fire was huge," said Robert Darcy.
The two good Samaritans feared that other people might be in the house, and those fears were confirmed when firefighters extinguished the flames.
"They brought a baby out that looked lifeless," Ayers said.
The Philadelphia fire commissioner said that a 21-year-old woman might have placed the infant on the porch as she tried to rescue two other children. The woman and her 3-year-old brother died, and a 7-month-old baby is in critical condition.
Several residents of the area, including an off-duty police officer, tried to get into the burning rowhome and warned others about the fast-moving fire.
"Somebody broke in my house to warn me. That's why I'm alive now. I don't know where he is to thank him," said Cindy Williams.
"Nobody could do anything. It was too much to overcome the flames," said Ed Savage, an off-duty police officer.
The 7-month-old boy and the 9-month-old girl were hospitalized with injuries. The boy is listed in critical condition at Children's Hospital of Pennsylvania, and the girl is listed in stable condition at Einstein Hospital.
Investigators don't yet know what caused the fire, but they think it started on the first floor.
The fire damaged four houses.
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