Pregnant Mom Dies Trying to Save Toddler From Philadelphia House Fire - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Pregnant Mom Dies Trying to Save Toddler From Philadelphia House Fire

Fire Claims Lives of Pregnant Mother and Toddler Overnight

Elizabeth Perez, a pregnant mother, and toddler son are dead following a fierce fire that ripped through their North Philadelphia home. NBC10’s Cydney Long reports how firefighters believe space heaters are to blame. (Published Friday, Jan. 8, 2016)

A mother who went back into a burning Philadelphia home to rescue her young child died in the fire, along with the toddler.

The mother, identified as Elizabeth Perez, was pregnant, family members told NBC10.

The fire started about 3:45 a.m. Friday inside a home in the 2800 block of N. 4th Street near Cambria Street.

Philadelphia Acting Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said a family member initially tried to fight the fire alone.

“Because they were trying to fight the fire, it delayed everyone getting out,” Sawyer explained.

Sawyer said Perez was able to initially escape the fire, but went back inside the home in an attempt to save her 2-year-old son Nathaniel Richardson.

After knocking down the fire, Sawyer said firefighters found Perez with her son in her arms near the doorway of a bedroom.

“It’s not a pretty sight … her holding her child in her arms trying to get back out,” Sawyer said, adding that the heavy smoke and flames prevented the two from getting back out.

Sawyer also said four children and two adults were taken to a nearby hospital. Their conditions were not known.

Firefighters found at least five portable space heaters inside the home, Sawyer said. One kerosene heater may be to blame for igniting a blanket that then caused the fire to spread, according to officials.

Firefighters did not initially locate any smoke alarms inside the home, Sawyer said.

"We've been on this block to install smoke alarms," he noted.

Firefighters will be back on the block Friday afternoon to install smoke alarms. The American Red Cross Eastern Pennsylvania said it would provide mental health and spiritual care counselors for neighbors and family.

No firefighters were injured.

Friday’s deaths are the city’s first fire fatalities in 2016. Sawyer said no children were killed during fires in 2015.