Fire marshal investigating suspicous fire in Frankford

Monday, May 21, 2012

Police say they believe the fire that tore through a building in Philadelphia's Frankford section Sunday afternoon may have been intentionally set.

The fire ripped through the vacant building. Firefighters took a defensive approach as walls crumbled and smoke billowed from the 3-story apartment building.

Neighbor Geraldine Davis recounts when she first noticed the fire, telling Action News, "I smelled smoke. I came out the house and looked around the corner. I said, 'I smell smoke.'"

Nearly a half dozen families had to be evacuated from neighboring homes either because of smoke, fire or water damage.

Nearby resident Jahara Miranda tells us, "The water is to the second step going down to the basement. So you can imagine. It's just horrible. This is devastating."

Investigators say this fire is suspicious. Several row homes around the corner caught fire on Saturday and Philadelphia Police tell Action News that arson is believed to be the cause.

When asked if he believed this latest fire was arson, Battlion Chief Michael Meskill of the Philadelphia Fire Department explains, "I couldn't say that to be sure at this point. The fire marshal is investigating along with police."

Fire officials say this is the second fire at 4444 Paul Street in the past year. The previous fire gutted much of the building and neighbors say the owners left it to be a constant eyesore on the block. Complaints to the city went nowhere.

"He didn't even show his face the last time the fire happened. He didn't even show his face. He never came around here. Nothing," said Jahara Miranda. "He didn't do anything then and I doubt he'll do anything now."

The building is owned by 4444 Paul Street Holdings. We have been trying to contact the owners of record but have been unsuccessful. The fire marshal's office says it will know more about the cause today when investigators can begin inspecting.

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