A Horsham building where a woman died yesterday in an early-morning blaze was occupied by 19 illegal immigrants from Central America, officials said.
The blaze, which critically injured two men, is still under investigation.
The fire erupted about 4 a.m. in the 19th-century stone farmhouse at 165 Moreland Ave. About 30 mattresses were scattered throughout the building, which is zoned for three apartments.
Investigators do not know how many people were inside when the fire broke out, said Risa Vetri Ferman, Montgomery County first assistant district attorney.
The illegal immigrants were taken into custody by officers from the federal Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement after the fire was extinguished about 5 a.m.
Authorities are withholding the victim's identity pending notification of her relatives.
Neighbors said the residents had been having a party Sunday evening, and they reported hearing a heated argument in Spanish coming from the property just before the fire. Investigators have not called the blaze suspicious.
"We woke up to yelling and screaming that lasted about 45 minutes," said Stacie DePaul, a neighbor. "After a while, we looked out the back, and that's when we smelled the smoke."
Firefighters arrived within minutes and found the back of the building's first floor on fire.
The woman was found dead inside. The two men, who were apparently sleeping when the blaze erupted, were admitted in critical condition to the burn unit at Temple University Medical Center, Horsham Fire Chief Tim Flanagan said.
Three male occupants and a firefighter from Hatboro were treated and released at Abington Memorial Hospital.
The apartment where the fire began had sleeping accommodations for eight people, said Jeff Clark, Horsham's code enforcement officer.
There were no code violations against the property, though Clark said he would investigate to determine whether too many people lived in the dwelling.
Distributed by the Associated Press