AP NEWS

1 dead, 1 missing in Philadelphia row house explosion

December 19, 2019 GMT
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Philadelphia firefighters battle a fire in Philadelphia on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)
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Philadelphia firefighters battle a fire in Philadelphia on Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019. (Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP)

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — An explosion and fire destroyed several row homes on Thursday, presumably killing at least one person and spraying glass and debris up and down the block. At least one other person was reported missing.

More than 100 firefighters battled flames that shot out the tops of the homes in south Philadelphia as heavy smoke billowed from the scene.

Firefighters “went into a fully collapsed building that was on fire to try to rescue somebody,” but were unable to reach the victim, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said at the scene. He said the person was presumed dead.

A second person in an adjacent building was missing, Thiel said.

Three row houses collapsed, and two others sustained heavy damage.

Lisa Marie Cerra told The Philadelphia Inquirer that she and other residents were trying to rescue a woman under debris when firefighters arrived.

“We saw her feet, and then they couldn’t get to her,” she said.

Gas to the area was shut off, and dozens of residents were evacuated as a precaution. Surrounding streets were closed.

The caused remained under investigation.

Gov. Tom Wolf offered state assistance and said he was “deeply saddened to learn of the potential loss of life.”