A large house fire in the city’s Fairmount neighborhood killed at least 12 people, including eight children, and injured two others Wednesday morning. Owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority, the three-story rowhouse, on the 800 block of North 23rd Street, had least 26 people living in it at the time of the blaze, authorities said.
“This is without a doubt one of the most tragic days in our city’s history,” Mayor Jim Kenney said from the scene Wednesday. “Loss of so many people in such a tragic way. Please keep all these folks, and especially these children, in your prayers. Losing so many kids is just devastating.”
Philadelphia fire officials are investigating the incident, saying that it is unclear how the fire killed so many people so quickly. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw has said that it is also “too early” to tell whether the fatalities could be deemed homicides, or if a criminal investigation will be necessary.
But as we wait for authorities to determine what happened, many people are wondering how to help those affected.
Fairmount fire fund-raisers
It is still early, but there are some ways to help, whether you are in Philadelphia or not.
The Philadelphia-based child advocacy nonprofit has launched a fund-raiser to help those affected and is “reaching out to the community to find ways” to help. Formerly known as Public Citizens for Children and Youth, the group adds that all donations will go to the family and community affected by the fire.
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The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia
The fund-raising nonprofit connected to the district has set up a donation page operating through its Family Support Fund. Several of the children killed in the fire were students in the School District, the fund says online.
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A GoFundMe campaign seeking to help with funeral expenses for those lost in the fire is also accepting donations. The campaign, which GoFundMe verified the legitimacy of to The Inquirer on Thursday morning, says it was organized by Andrea Bronson and has been “authorized by the Parents/Grandparents of the deceased.” The fund-raiser hopes to assist with funeral arrangements and resources for survivors.
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Another GoFundMe campaign started by Debra Jackson is accepting donations to benefit the Woods-Carter family, who resided in the lower unit of the rowhouse. The family survived the blaze but lost nearly all of their possessions, a family member said. The campaign, which The Inquirer has verified is legitimate, seeks to help the family “get back on their feet with any and all donations.”
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A third GoFundMe organized by Tim McAdams is taking donations for Howard Robinson, who was hospitalized by the fire and is in “fair condition” at Temple University Hospital. The campaign, which The Inquirer has verified, says that Robinson is the father of several children who died in the blaze. Donations will be used to allow Robinson to “spend whatever amount of time he will need to grieve and heal from the trauma” the incident caused, organizers wrote.
United for Christ Ministries
Family members of Virginia Thomas are accepting donations of clothing, sneakers, and toys for the woman’s son at United for Christ Ministries from noon to 4 p.m. on Friday, Jan 7. Thomas and several of her children died in Wednesday’s fire, but the boy, who turned 6 on Friday, survived. Family members said on Facebook that he needs clothing sized 5T-6T, and shoes sized 13-13.5.
Mike’s BBQ is accepting clothing donations at its South Philadelphia storefront through Sunday. The restaurant shared a list of items needed — such as specifically sized shoes and clothing — from activist and Unity in the Community president Anton Moore, who said on Instagram that the family contacted him for help.
The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret
Local music group The Martha Graham Cracker Cabaret will donate 100% of Venmo (@MarthaGrahamCracker) and PayPal (email@example.com) tips for the month of January to the Children First campaign, pianist and Philadelphia magazine senior reporter Victor Fiorillo said. Cash donations will also be accepted during a portion of an upcoming show at Franky Bradley’s on Wednesday. Additionally, Franky Bradley’s will donate 100% of upstairs venue bar sales from the night of the show.
Tips on donating
Before donating to a charity or fund-raiser, you can check out the group on charity rating websites such as Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and Guidestar, which evaluate nonprofits and recommend credible charitable organizations.