Three Injured in Philly Fire, Police Take Man into Custody

July 26--Authorities are investigating a "suspicious" fire that ripped through a South Philadelphia rowhouse Friday, injuring two adults and a child forced to flee the blaze.

Police at the same time credited one of their own -- Lt. Jonathan Josey -- with rushing into the burning building to alert residents.

Early Friday evening, police said they had a male in custody and charges were expected. No further information on the suspect was available.

The Fire Department said the blaze, on the 1700 block of Sigel Street, was reported shortly before 6:15 a.m. and witnesses told investigators they saw someone throw something into the house.

Police Capt. Lou Campione said Josey was on duty in plain clothes when he saw the fire at 6:11 and kicked in the front door, alerting the family, a man and woman and 3-year-old girl, who escaped through the back of the house into the alley behind. They suffered smoke inhalation and other injuries and were sent to Hahnemann University Hospital for treatment.

Residents in the neighborhood said they heard screams around 6 as the fire started.

"All I heard was my neighbors screaming, 'Help! Help!' " said Debra Cody, who lives down the block.

Susan Cowan, who lives around the corner on 18th Street, said she also heard cries for help and looked out her bedroom window, which opens onto the alley behind Sigel. There, she said, she saw an older man "huddled down" who had apparently escaped the fire.

"The firemen came around and got him out," she said. "They got here really fast."

Neighboring homes were also affected by the fire and the Red Cross said it was helping a family of five.

Last year, Josey was acquitted of punching a woman during the 2012 Puerto Rican parade, an encounter caught on a video posted online.

215-854-2961 @aubreyjwhelan

Inquirer staff writer Robert Moran contributed to this article.

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