Community rallies for fire victims

After an ar­son­ist star­ted a fire that des­troyed the homes of five Port Rich­mond fam­il­ies, River Wards neigh­bors have re­spon­ded in the way they know best: by com­ing to­geth­er to sup­port one an­oth­er. 

Lend­ing a help­ing hand: Mem­bers of Firm Hope Baptist Church and the L.O.V.E. So­cial Club pre­pared posters for a dona­tions gath­er­ing event on Ju­ly 24 for vic­tims of the Ju­ly 21 Mem­ph­is Street fire. The L.O.V.E. So­cial Club has gathered more than $1,300 for the vic­tims as of Monday. SAM NE­W­HOUSE / STAR PHOTO

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: des­ti­nychurch­­ph­is-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.

In Fishtown:

•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. ••

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