If any silver lining could be found in the aftermath of a fire that destroyed her home, Nicole Frazier said she has found it.
“Until this, I didn’t realize I had so many people in the area who are concerned and care about other people,” she told Star by phone on July 26. “I would really like to find another house in the Port Richmond area. I want to stay around good people,” she said.
The River Wards communities have rallied around Frazier, 34, and the four other families who lost everything in the early morning hours of July 21, when a fire gutted five homes on the 2800 block of Memphis Street.
Those who lost their homes include men and women, teenagers, and children as young as six months of age. They need all the donations they can get — clothes, home goods, toiletries, anything.
Frazier has lived on the 2800 block of Memphis Street since 2009, she said, along with her 11-year-old daughter and 17-year-old son. Her children are currently staying with their father, while Frazier stays with a friend and looks for a new place to live.
“I’ve been dealing with so many other things before [the fire], to come home and see everything gone is just devastating,” she said. “But mostly, I’m still good. I talk to my kids on the phone every day. Emotionally, as a mom, you’ve got to keep them from seeing you down.”
To date, Port Richmond and Fishtown establishments alike have offered to be drop-off points for donations for the families.
Destiny Church, which comprises a network of churches which meet all over the city, has set up an online monetary donation page: destinychurchphilly.org/memphis-st. As of Monday, the church had raised $300, according to pastor Doug Black, Jr. Other drop-off points are:
In Port Richmond:
•Firm Hope Baptist Church, 2311-17 E. Auburn St., (215) 313-1231, from noon to 3 p.m. and 5:30 to 8 p.m.
•Mother of Divine Grace Day Camp, 2612 E. Monmouth St., (215) 429-7325, Monday through Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
•Memphis Street Academy Charter School, 2950 Memphis St., (215) 291-4709, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Friday.
•The Port Richmond District Office of State Rep. John Taylor, 2901 E. Thompson St., (215) 425-0901, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
•liberti church east, 2424 E. York St. (Entrance on Gordon St). (267) 908-3625, from Sunday - Thursday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
•Anthony’s Cafe, 319 E. Girard Ave. (At Oxford Street), (215) 634-0981.
The L.O.V.E. Social Club will also collect donations on Aug. 10 at noon, at Cione Playground, at Aramingo and Lehigh avenues. A gospel choir from Firm Hope Baptist Church will also perform at that event.
L.O.V.E. had raised more than $1,300 as of press time, and liberti church east had collected four bags of clothes and several gift cards.
“I want to thank everybody for everything they’ve done for me,” Frazier said. “Words can’t express how I feel.”
Police have confirmed that 2842 Memphis St. was set on fire the morning of July 21 by a 32-year-old male, and that it occurred during a “domestic-related disturbance.” Police are still searching for the arsonist.
The Fire Marshall’s office is still investigating the fire and has not released any information on what type of incendiary device was used.
Neighbors who witnessed the fire described flames sweeping across the block and detonating a propane tank under a grill on one neighbor’s front porch.
“The fire spread so rapidly, I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Latoya David, who lives across the street from where the fire took place.
Kathy Hicks, who lives around the corner, said she was at the scene from shortly after 1 a.m. to 7 in the morning. She also said there was a delay in activating fire hoses.
“By the time I came out, they were screaming, ‘No water, no water,’” Hicks said. “It was about 10 to 15 minutes before they could get it on.”
Firefighters’ union International Association of Fire Fighters Local 22 president Joe Schulle said that the delay might be explained by the fact that the nearest fire station, Ladder 16, at Belgrade and Huntingdon streets, had its engine company, Engine 6, deactivated a few years ago due to budget cuts.
“The main concern is that the first responding engine company was placed out of service,” Schulle said. “Engine 6 would have been the first due company. It was placed out of service a few years ago.”
Engine companies have trucks with 500 gallons of water and a pressurized system to pump water from hydrants and extinguish fires. Ladder companies are intended to perform search and rescue, ventilation, and laddering around a fire.
“A lot of times a ladder company will show up, start laddering around the fire, and civilians will be yelling, ‘Get in there, get the water,’ but they can’t,” Schulle said. “They have a little bit of hose but it wouldn’t be appropriate or prudent to use it … hooked up to a hydrant, there wouldn’t be enough pressure and the stream would be largely ineffective.”
“I don’t know if there was a delay in [engines] getting there,” Schulle added.
Philadelphia Fire Department Executive Chief Richard Davison said that firefighters received the call at 1:09 a.m. and responded at 1:12 a.m. He said he did not know at what specific times Ladder 16, Engine 28 and Engine 25 arrived at the fire.
If there is a broken fire hydrant on your block, Contact the Philadelphia Water Department’s Hydrant Desk, at 215-685-9641, or call 311. ••