Camilla Ware fought back the tears as she remembered the loved ones and home that she lost to an early morning fire in North Philadelphia.
"My grandparents lived in this house for 55 years," Ware said. "To see it destroyed in flames and not only that but to have my loved ones perish in the fire, is a pain that I can't even describe."
Ware's aunt, 69-year-old Gwendolyn Cofield and Ware's cousin, 5-year-old Lamar Anthony James, were killed in the blaze.
The fire began around 12:05 a.m. at a home on the 1500 block of North 6th Street. Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer says there were heavy flames and smoke on the second floor that quickly spread throughout the house.
Cofield and her great-grandson Lamar were trapped in a third floor bedroom. While the home had working smoke detectors, investigators say the door was not shut in the room where the fire started and the victims did not have enough time to escape as the flames spread. By the time firefighters arrived, it was already too late.
“One of the things that is also important is that if you have a fire in the home, you close the door so the fire doesn’t spread throughout the home,” Sawyer said. “Even though the victims were above the fire, the fire spread to the floor where the victims were at. If the people would’ve been able to close their doors, that would’ve brought them a little more time to be rescued.”
Cofield was loved by many in her neighborhood. According to residents, she helped keep the block clean and also threw a Father’s Day party for the men in the area.
"They were wonderful, beautiful people and they will be truly missed," said Ware, who was not home at the time of the fire. "We're a very tight, close-knit family and this is a really, really tragic time for us. We're just going to rely on our faith to get us through."
The Red Cross is currently assisting 12 other people who were affected by the fire.
The Fire Marshal’s Office continues to investigate the cause.