Four People Killed in Fire at Philadelphia Row Home

Four people, including two children, are dead following a predawn fire in West Philadelphia.

Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said firefighters found nothing to indicate there were working smoke detectors in the rowhouse on the 5200 block of Chancellor Street.

"They did not get an early warning," he said. "It's just a terrible morning."

Two boys who were critically burned died at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and elderly man died at Misericordia Hospital, Ayers said. The children's mother was found dead in a rear bedroom.

Neighbors identified the boys as Cyncere McClendon, about 4, and his brother Jayden, about 2.

According to public records and neighbors, the other victims were the boys' grandfather, Seneca McClendon, 75, a retired postal worker known as Mr. Chuck, and the boys' mother, Rishya Jenkins, 23.

Neighbors said the children's father, Anthony McClendon, 25, tried to get into the house, when he came home from work, but he was beaten back by the flames. Relatives at the scene said he was so distraught he had to be hospitalized.

The fire was reported about 4:42 a.m. and declared under control at 5:23 a.m., Ayers said.

The cause of the fire -- which, Ayers said, apparently broke out on the first floor -- is under investigation.

Residents of two neighboring homes were evacuated because of the fire.

Some neighbors wept as they studied the burned out rowhouse.

"Everybody is close," said Kim Hankins, 44. "The block is like a family."

"She was a great mother," Hankins said of Jenkins.

On Sunday, a 4-year-old girl and a 79-year-old woman were killed in a fire in North Philadelphia.

Ayers said the latest fatalities bring to 14 the number of civilians killed this year in fires, compared to 16 last year. Two firefighters also died battling a warehouse fire in Kensington last week.

He urged anyone who needed a smoke detector to call 311 or go to http://freedomfromfire.com/

Copyright 2012 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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