Feb. 26--A disabled senior citizen trapped beside a burning space heater in a Philadelphia rowhouse died after his wife ran outside for help but the door locked behind her.
The man had previously lost his legs to diabetes. His identity has not yet been released.
A city firefighter was also injured and taken to Temple University Episcopal Hospital. That injury was not thought to be serious.
It was the ninth fatal fire so far this year, and the second fatal blaze in two days where there were no working smoke detectors found.
Firefighters received a call about 4:15 a.m. to respond to a fire on the 100 block of Eleanor Street in the Feltonville section.
City Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said the first crews arrived on the scene to find the first floor of the home burning and someone trapped inside.
According to Ayers, the following occurred:
The man, a senior, was living on the first floor because of his disability and using a space heater for warmth.
His wife, who was upstairs, awoke to his screams and calls for help.
"She said she heard him screaming her name, calling for her," Ayers said, "When she came down, she saw the space heater on fire."
The woman doused the flames coming from the space heater, but the fire was already racing through the house.
She went outside to yell for help. The door closed and locked behind her.
Arriving crews found the woman outside, and immediately broke into the house through the front door. They made their way through the living room, and into a dining room area.
There, they discovered the husband's body. They found his wheelchair nearby.
"There was a lot of heavy fire," Ayers said.
The fire rose through the second floor. Crews had to cut a hole in the roof in an attempt to control it. They fought the fire for about 36 minutes.
Afterward, crews found only the bases of two smoke alarms -- one in the cellar and one upstairs, Ayers said.
Ayers said he was dismayed at seeing the same scenario being played out over and over in the city -- homes with no working smoke detectors and the widespread use of space heaters.
A new city law requires smoke alarms powered by 10-year lithium ion batteries on every floor.
On Sunday night, a swift-moving fire raced through a two-story rowhouse in Southwest Philadelphia, killing one man and sending two others to the hospital.
Ayers said no working smoke alarms were found in that house, and space heaters were present.
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