What to Know
Ralph Freeman and his 8-year-old son James died after a fire started at the building where they lived in Chester.
Freeman's 4-year-old son Jeremiah was rescued but is in critical condition.
Loved ones paid tribute to the father and son Monday.
Loved ones are mourning a father and son who died over the weekend after their Delaware County home caught fire.
The fire started inside a building near the intersection of W. 2nd Street and Concord Avenue in Chester Sunday morning. Ralph Freeman lived on the second floor with his 8-year-old son James and his 4-year-old son Jeremiah.
When firefighters arrived at the building, they saw smoke coming out of the second floor and tried to rush in, but had a tough time entering because there was a lot of debris on the first floor blocking their path, Chester Fire Department Commissioner William Rigby said.
Firefighters eventually got inside and pulled the two boys out. The brothers were taken to the hospital where James died.
Firefighters later found Ralph Freeman's body at the other end of the building, Rigby said.
Freeman was a loving father who even made a makeshift backyard so his sons would have somewhere to play, said Khalif Ahissamaden, who told NBC10 he lived on the other side of the building for a period of time.
"He told me he was moving. I wish he did, just for the sake of the kids. I wish he did," Ahissamaden said.
A family member told NBC10 Freeman bought the building about a year ago. The first floor was vacant commercial space at the time of the fire but Freeman and his family were living upstairs.
One neighbor said he previously warned Freeman about the dangerous living conditions.
"He had the doors barricaded which I knew about that," Richard Pedrick said. "But he just never listened to me or nobody really."
Loved ones gathered at the scene of the fire Monday night to honor the father and son, leaving stuffed animals, photos and sharing a video from last thanksgiving of the family.
As the family continues to mourn, they are praying that Jeremiah makes a full recovery. The boy remains in critical condition at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia after suffering from smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning.
"He is recovering," the boy's grandmother, Michelle Cooper, told NBC10. "But there's a long road to recovery."
Cooper said the prognosis gave her hope.
"He's a special kid," she said. "To know him is to love him. He's just a little bundle of joy."
Family members told NBC10 the boy endured his last hyperbaric chamber treatment Monday and will remain sedated overnight.
"Poor baby, you're going to make it," Jeremiah's aunt, Piseitta Arrington, said. "God got you. He got you. You're going to make it."