Fire In Boarded-Up Philadelphia Home Claims 5 Lives

Monday, February 12th 2007, 8:12 am
By: News On 6

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A boarded-up home that caught fire, killing a woman and her four young children, was choked with debris and had an illegal electrical hookup and a hodgepodge of electric and kerosene heaters, investigators said.

Firefighters found the victims together on a bed on the home's second floor early Sunday, Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said.

``It was just in a shambles, no place where human beings should be trying to live,'' Ayers said. ``Such a large loss of life. It's a terrible tragedy.''

Family members identified the victims as Cornellrey Robinson, 25, and her children: a 6-year-old girl and boys ages 1 1/2, 3 and 4.

The home in the West Philadelphia neighborhood was owned by Robinson's late mother, and Robinson had been living there despite safety warnings from family members, Ayers said. It was unclear how long ago the house had been boarded up, he said.

``She was told not to go back there, but she didn't listen,'' he said.

The fire was reported at 3:20 a.m. and under control in less than 40 minutes, the commissioner said. As firefighters pulled off the plywood on a second-floor rear window to gain access to what they thought was an unoccupied building, though, they discovered the victims, Ayers said.

Rescuers rushed to pass the victims out of the windows but none could be revived, he said.

``It's just a catastrophic thing,'' Ayers said.

Neighbors saw the young woman's boyfriend coming and going from the home in recent weeks, and people on the block thought that it was empty but that the couple was fixing it up, Ayers said.