NBC10Philadelphia - Katy Zachry
A house fire in North Philadelphia claimed the life of an 84-year-old Navy Veteran. As officials continue to investigate the cause, NBC10's Katy Zachry spoke to the man's grieving family.
Investigators say an elderly Navy veteran died after a fire ripped through a home in the Frankford section of Philadelphia Sunday morning.
It happened around 8 a.m. on the 1600 block of Bridge Street.
"I smelled the smoke and I got the hell out of there," said Leroy Adams, 84.
Adams tells NBC10 he was sleeping in the front room of a home on Bridge Street when he awoke to the smoke. Adams says he called for his friend, Jack Blitchford, 84, who was asleep in the back room.
"I called for him but he couldn't hear good, he had very bad hearing," said Adams.
Jack Blitchford, Credit: Family Photo
Adams escaped and was taken to Temple University Hospital where he was treated and released. Blitchford however, wasn't so fortunate. He suffered severe burns and was pronounced dead at the hospital.
"The burns were on 30 percent of his body," said Jack's son John Blitchford. "There was smoke inhalation. But his heart they started it three times and after that they couldn't start it anymore."
"He's my best friend," said Adams while in tears.
Blitchford's four children were at the scene of the fire on Sunday. They say their father was a Navy veteran who ran a used car business and rented out the top floor where the fire took place.
"He had 84 great years," said John Blitchford. "He served his country in the Navy, loved the Navy and loved America. He'd give you the shirt off his back. That's the kind of guy he was."
The Red Cross is currently helping Blitchford's family with the cost of boarding up the home. The family says their father could not afford home owner's insurance.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.