Man who lost 4 loved ones in fire speaks to Action News
WEST PHILADELPHIA - April 16, 2012 (WPVI) -- Mayor Michael Nutter and other city leaders were holding a news conference on fire prevention at the scene of the deadly blaze in the 5200 block of Chancellor Street this afternoon.
Just then, family members of the four who died at the home arrived, some to see the fire scene for the first time.
The devastation and the memorial outside the row home proved too much to bear.
Mayor Nutter ended the news conference to offer Anthony McClendon his condolences.
His two boys, Cincere and Jayden, ages four and two died in the fire.
His fiancee, 23-year-old Rishya Jenkins, was pronounced dead at the scene.
And, his father, 67-year-old Seneca McClendon, known as Chuck, also did not survive.
"I'm just trying to stay calm for everybody cause I am the last person. I got to be strong for everybody," McClendon said.
The fire broke out in the row home around 4:45 a.m. yesterday.
McClendon was coming home from a double shift. He got off the bus and immediately smelled smoke.
"I ran down the block. I thought it was my neighbor's house," McClendon said.
He found his own row home engulfed in flames and knew his family was trapped on the second floor.
"I tried to go in there. I really did. Soon as the smoke hit me, I started coughing and I ran around back. Broke the back door down and tried to get in there. The furthest I got was the dining room the smoke was just overwhelming so I had to get out," McClendon said.
He is holding on to happy memories of life with his small boys and trying to figure out how to go on now.
"I don't know, I'm trying to live day by day. That's why I surround myself with family and friends. They keep me going." McClendon said.
A candelight vigil is scheduled at 8:00 p.m. for family members and the community.
philadelphia, west philadelphia, fire, local/state, sarah bloomquist
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