Community Pulls Together To Ease Tensions In Southwest Philadelp

Community Pulls Together To Ease Tensions In Southwest Philadelphia

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SOUTHWEST PHILADELPHIA-The debate rages on over the fire department's response time to Saturday’s 3-alarm fire that left four children dead, left 10 families homeless and a neighborhood up in arms.

Church leaders from across the region have been calling pastors in Southwest Philadelphia, asking how they help ease the tension in a grieving neighborhood.

“We’ve been responding to provide comfort and let families know they don't have to bear the burden alone. We’ve been praying with them and praying for them,” said Christ International Baptist Church Rev. Dr. Napoleon L. Divine.

Marcus Yarborough says he awoke to hear fireworks going off on the block early Saturday morning, so he looked out the window.

“The fireworks stopped then I heard some poppin, crackling sound then I looked out the window and seen the couch on fire across the street,” he said.

Yarborough says he called 9-1-1, and estimates it took 20 minutes for the fire department to respond.

Dominic Drummond says his cousin called 9-1-1 also His personal recollection of the response time:“Took 20 minutes when they finally got here, they got out of the car and stand here for 15 minutes,” said Drummond.

The fire department says the first call came in at 2:44 a.m., at 2:46 a.m. a verbal dispatch was made about a couch on fire. At 2:47 a.m., a second fire call reporting four houses on fire and a crew was on the way, at 2:49 a.m., Ladder 4 was on scene, and at 2:50 a.m. Engine 40 was on scene after leaving an earlier car fire several blocks away.

“The national standard is five and a half minutes, they made it within the national standard coming from another fire,” said Philadelphia Fire Department Commission Derrick Sawyer.

On Monday night, neighbors protested outside the local firehouse, some arrests were made. Many affected in the neighborhood are Liberian immigrants. On Tuesday, a Liberian official urged residents to stay calm.

“We understand the grief but we have to respect the law,” said Liberian Information Minister Robert Kpadeh.

Rapper Meek Mill visited Southwest Philadelphia to lend his support to the grieving community as well.

The Liberian ambassador to the United States Jeremiah Sulunte also toured the damage on the 6500 block of Gesner Street on Tuesday.

He says he wants to find out how the tragedy started.

He met with family members of the four kids who died in the Saturday morning fire. The ambassador says he has a meeting tomorrow with city administrators to figure out ways to help the neighborhood recover.

If you'd like to help the victims, donations are being accepted at the Christ International Baptist Church.

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