A devastating house fire tore through a residential property in Philadelphia, killing far too many people. Seven of the eight children who lived in the house have been reported dead, while the fire also claimed the lives of five adults who were at the property at the time of the blaze. Investigators are now looking into the possibility that the fire was started by a five-year-old child who was playing with a lighter, catching fire to the Christmas tree and sparking a blaze that firefighters struggled to contain.

Although the fire killed twelve people – seven children and five adults – the child who started the fire managed to escape without injury. The little one started the fire while playing with the lighter and ran out of the house to safety moments later. When investigators managed to speak to the child, the little one told authorities exactly what had happened, which makes it seem like a gross accident.

The fire took the lives of two sisters and their children and several other people early on Wednesday. It was the deadliest inferno in Philadelphia in more than a century. Now, authorities have obtained search warrants to help them figure out how the fire started and to confirm whether or not the child did start the fire on the Christmas tree, as stated in their story.

Fire officials confessed that the scene was very complex and did not want to comment on specific details of the fire. Officials at the time did not say where the fire started, although it is now believed the far started on the Christmas tree.

“I know that we will hopefully be able to provide a specific origin and cause to this fire and to provide some answers to the loved ones and, really, to the city,” said Matthew Varisco, who leads the Philadelphia branch of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF). Investigators from ATF and the fire department searched through the charred remains of the three-story brick Philadelphia duplex building.

The house fire claimed the lives of sisters, 30-year-old Virginia Thomas and 33-year-old Rosalee McDonald, along with many of their combined eleven children. The Philadelphia row home went up in flames around 6:38 am on Wednesday morning. Two other adults were killed in the fire. Surviving family members of the victims claim that the fire took people who were as old as thirty-three and as young as one-year-old.

Two other people, including one child, remain in critical condition.

“They’re babies, young children. They didn’t even get to experience life,” Isaiah Brown, a cousin of the family, told Fox News.

The children lived with their mothers in the duplex, which spans the second and third floors of the building. There were eighteen people living in the unit.

While there were a lot of people living in the unit, a spokesperson for Philadelphia’s Department of Licenses and Inspections said the city does not limit how many people live in a unit because they can’t control the size of families.

PHA “does not evict people because they have children,” the spokesperson said.

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