More than 150 firefighters were called to the scene after the blaze broke out around 2:45 a.m., Griffith said. The fire shot in two directions, traveling through seven other row houses, all of which are connected by their front porches. The initial call to firefighters described the fire as a "rubbish fire."
A rubbish fire that started outside may have spread to a series of Philadephia rowhouses early Saturday morning, sparking a fast-moving three-alarm blaze that killed four children, a Fire Department spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.
The fire ripped through a series of Philadelphia homes around 2:45 a.m., killing four young children and injuring five others, said James Griffith, a supervisor with the Philadelphia Fire Department's communications center.
Maria and Mariah Bowah, 4-year-old twin sisters; 4-year-old Patrick Fanyee; and 1-year-old Tai Jacque were all found dead inside the building where the blaze began, Griffith said.
“This is a tragic, tragic day for the city of Philadelphia. Tragic,” Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said, according to the Associated Press. “We lost four children today.”
The cause of the fire remained under investigation, and Griffith did not say how the children were related or if they lived there.
Firefighters finally brought the blaze under control around 4:15 a.m., Griffith said. Images on Twitter showed the wood-framed buildings completely burned out, with supports turned to a charcoal color and windows completely blown out by flames.
Five other people were taken to area hospitals and treated for smoke inhalation, and eight homes suffered severe fire, water and smoke damage, according to Griffith.
Roughly 45 people were displaced by the blaze.