2 Children, Grandmom Injured in N. Philly House Fire

The fire broke out at an apartment building on 19th and Susquehanna around 9 a.m.

By Kelly Bayliss, Doug Shimell and David Chang
|  Wednesday, Sep 5, 2012  |  Updated 6:07 PM EDT
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Janet Willis and her two granddaughters were injured when a fire ripped through a six-unit apartment building at Uber and Susquehanna  in North Philadelphia Wednesday morning. NBC10's Doug Shimell reports.

NBC10 Philadelphia - Doug Shimell

Janet Willis and her two granddaughters were injured when a fire ripped through a six-unit apartment building at Uber and Susquehanna in North Philadelphia Wednesday morning. NBC10's Doug Shimell reports.

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Two children and their grandmother were injured when a fire ripped through an apartment building in North Philadelphia Wednesday morning.

The fire in the six-unit building at Uber and Susquehanna broke out just before 9 a.m.

Family confirmed to NBC10 that the victims are Janet Willis and her granddaughters -- 1-year-old Aliana Willis and her 8-year-old sister Myana Willis.

Police say the three victims lived in an apartment on the second floor.

"I heard kids hollering," said Curtis Bagwell, a witness. "We tried to go in but couldn't because of the intense smoke and heat."

When police and firefighters arrived on scene, relatives say Janet Willis handed them Aliana and then carried Myana to the street.

"I used the light from my cell phone to try to find the children that were inside the building," said Rickie Durham. "I kept telling them, 'come to the light!'" 

"The police officer said in his report she was coming down the stairs when he got here and she handed off one of the children to the police officer," said Captain Clifford Gilliam of the Philadelphia Fire Department.
Both children were taken to St. Christopher's Hospital where they are in critical condition. Their grandmother, who was also injured, was transported to Temple University Hospital. She is in stable condition.

As fire officials continue to search for a cause, other tenants say there have been previous fires and electrical problems in the building.

"We have no smoke detectors," said Tamesha Palmer, a building tenant. "We have no breaker boxes. My electricity in my unit always cuts out."

"As far as I know everything was okay," said Tilahoun Amera, the owner of the building. "I never had any violations or anything like that."

NBC10 checked with Philadelphia's Licenses and Inspections. They told us they have no cases against Amera.

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