3 People, Including Child, Found Dead Inside North Philadelphia Home Days After Fire

Family members say they've been calling the fire department and telling them the woman and child remained missing

Nearly 72 hours after fire tore through a North Philadelphia home causing the second floor to collapse and injure two firefighters and kill a man, fire officials say they've recovered the bodies of three additional victims.

They were found only after family members say they pleaded with the fire department to do a new search of the hollowed out property.

Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said a 64-year-old man, his 25-year-old daughter, and her 3-year-old son were recovered Friday night from inside a home along the 1800 block of N. 21st Street near Berks Street. Family members identified the woman as Alita Johnson, her son as Haashim Johnson and her father as Horace.

The home, described by Thiel as an illegal boarding house, caught fire around midnight Wednesday during a lull in the major nor'easter that battered the region. That night, a man was found dead inside the home shortly after firefighters arrived.

During the firefight, the home's second floor collapsed. Two firefighters were injured and had to be taken to the hospital.

Family members tell NBC10 they spent the past several days calling the Philadelphia Fire Department saying that all three relatives were missing. They asked that firefighters go back to the home and search for their bodies. That happened Friday evening.

"I want to know why they waited all this time to go in there and find my granddaughter on the step with her son," Herman Fripp, a family member, said Friday night.

Loved ones also expressed their frustrations during a vigil for the victims Saturday night.

"They took their time just to come out here," said Laleeha, Johnson's cousin. "I had to call 10 different people just for them to do another search."

Thiel said the collapsed floor blocked access to the 3rd floor room where the bodies were found. He also said firefighters were unaware that three other people were in the home during the initial entry and investigation.

"This is the worst thing possible for us. Every fire death is tragic. This is worse than that," Thiel said.

Thiel told NBC10 they'll review the entire response to the fire.

The medical examiner will perform autopsies to determine the cause of death for all three victims.

Family Photos
(L to R), Alita Johnson, Haashim Johnson, Horace
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