Official Cause Announced in Deadly SW Phila. Fire

Memorial fund set up for three children who died in blaze

The Philadelphia Fire Marshal announced Monday the cause of a deadly fire that killed seven people, including three children, and sent two others to the hospital.

Misuse of a kerosene heater was ruled the official cause of the house fire that broke out late Friday night at 6418 Elmwood Avenue in Southwest Philadelphia.

The fire started in the basement of the three-story brick duplex and quickly engulfed the home. 53 firefighters responded to the blaze, according to Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.

26-year-old Vivian Teah, 24-year-old Eliott Teah, 17-year-old Jennifer Teah, 1-year-old Zyhire Wright-Teah,  8-year-old Ramere Dosso, 6-year-old Mariam Dosso and 54-year-old Henry Gbokoloi died in the fire.

Six of the victims were found huddled together in the basement after intense flames blocked the only exit, according to fire officials.

People who were in the home when the fire started said they believed the person filling the heater accidentally used gasoline as fuel instead of kerosene.

Six neighbors were displaced and are being cared for by the Red Cross.

A memorial fund has been set up to help pay for funeral arrangements for the three children -- Ramere, Mariam and Zyhire.

People wishing to make donations can mail a check payable to Michelle Dosso to the address below:

Michelle Dosso
c/o Alexandra Beljin
TD Bank, University City Branch Manager
3735 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104

Donors can also stop into any TD Bank branch and ask to make a donation to the Michelle Dosso Fund.

The Fire Department released a set of safety tips for Philadelphia residents who use kerosene heaters:

  • Read and follow the manufacturer's directions for correct operation and maintenance of the heater.
  • Provide adequate ventilation via a slightly open window.
  • Place heater away from curtains, furniture and other combustibles.
  • Ensure heater is not blocking an exit or a walkway.
  • Never leave a heater on while unattended.
  • Refill the heater outside when the unit is cool. Never refuel a heater while it is burning.
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