Massive Fire Rips Through SW Philly Homes, Killing 4 Children

Neighbors Remember Twin Sisters Killed in Fire

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Family members of the four children killed in a fatal blaze say they will remember 4-year-old twin sisters Maria and Marialla Bowah, 1-month-old Taj Jacque and 4-year-old Patrick Sanyeah as playful and happy kids. (Published Saturday, Jul 5, 2014)

    Twin sisters Maria and Marialla Bowah always greeted their neighbors along the 6500 block of Gesner Street with a smile.

    "I always call them Pink Ladies. They like wearing pink," neighbor Abu Marrah said. "Oh, every time they have barrettes on their heads, they're pink. Pink sandals. They're sweet."

    Marrah, like many neighbors, grinned ear to ear as he described the 4-year-old girls who perished in an intense fire that burned along this small street overnight Saturday.

    The sisters along with two boys -- 1-month-old Taj Jacque and 4-year-old Patrick Sanyeah -- were trapped in the basement of a home at 6518 Gesner, officials said. The boys were killed as well.

    Standing a few feet tall, with short hair and bowed legs, the girls were always playing outside, neighbors said. And never apart.

    "You know, the funniest thing, You can't identify them. They are so alike," Marrah said. "When you see one of them, you see the other."

    "They would call me Grandpa. They would see me and say 'Grandpa, Grandpa, Grandpa,'" said Benjamin Wilson, who lives down the block and across the street.

    "They play right there," he said pointing to the sidewalk covered with charred debris.

    Hours before Loraine Kamara saw them playing in the same spot on her way to work.

    "One of the twins was swinging her dress. The little boy was playing nearby," she said. "They were just playing and that's the last memory I have of them."

    Eight homes were destroyed in the fire and 42 people displaced. Besides the physical losses, neighbors say loosing the girls will leave a permanent mark on this block.

    "The Fourth of July isn't ever going to be the same," Jeff Boone said.