The fire marshal's office has yet to rule on the cause of a blaze that roared through a rowhouse in Kensington early Saturday, killing three children and leaving three other relatives in critical condition, but family members think the fire was set intentionally.
Residents of Clementine Street near Jasper awoke at about 3:30 a.m. to the cries of Jamika Clark as she yelled for help from a second-story window.
"My kids! My kids!" she screamed as the house quickly went up in flames.
Clark, in her late 20s, threw her 2-year-old daughter, known as C.C., out the window safely into the arms of a neighbor. A cousin caught Clark when she jumped soon after.
"The house was in flames when she jumped," Clark's cousin, Catherine Fuller, said.
"It took her a while to jump. She waited until the fire was on her before she jumped. She was burned, but she was worried about her kids."
Clark couldn't reach her other children, relatives said, and firefighters then pulled the five other from the house. Three children died in the fire: Mahogany, 7; Shaune, 5, and Sharonda, 4.
Two other children, Jonte, 10, and Quadere, 6, were reported in critical condition last night at Temple University Children's Medical Center. Clark is also still in critical condition.
The family said Clark's husband, Shaune Porter, moved out of the house recently.
Relatives said the family has had "altercations" with an acquaintance, but declined to comment further.
"I don't care what anybody says," Aaron Fuller, Catherine's husband, said. "That fire was not electrical."
"It looks like the fire was started from the outside," Catherine Fuller added, pointing to one side of the house more charred than the other. "It just doesn't look right."
The tree-lined block was filled with families sitting on the sidewalk yesterday afternoon. Children placed dozens of colorful teddy bears, candles and cards in front of the house next to the blackened furniture ruined in the fire.
"Jamika loved her kids," Catherine Fuller said. "There wasn't anything she wouldn't do for them."
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Distributed by the Associated Press