It’s going to feel like spring compared with yesterday, with temps in the 40s.

The fatal Fairmount fire highlighted the glaring disparities when it comes to affordable housing in Philly.

And we’re pouring so much salt on area roads that the salinity in some freshwater streams is approaching or even surpassing ocean levels. 😬

— Kerith Gabriel (@sprtswtr,

The Fairmount fire and affordable housing in Philly

Twenty people were registered as living in the duplex at 869 N. 23rd St., where a fire killed 12. One of the biggest questions that emerged about the blaze at the PHA-owned home:

Why were so many people living there?

Preliminary findings released yesterday confirmed that the fire began when a 5-year-old boy set a Christmas tree aflame with a lighter. The blaze killed 12 people, including nine children.

Compared with other big cities, Philly’s public housing is actually relatively affordable. But poverty and low incomes make options scarce for thousands.

A look at Philly housing, by the numbers:

  • 40: The percentage of households that spend 30% or more of their income on housing.

  • $30,000: More than two-thirds of these households have an income below that mark.

  • 41,000: The number of federal housing vouchers available in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

  • 206,000: The number of eligible households on a years-long waiting list for housing.

Our reporter Michaelle Bond looks at Philly’s housing inequities, which help explain why so many people were inside one Fairmount rowhouse.

What you should know today

The side effects of the rock salt on Philly roads

If the city gets just three inches of snow, Steve Lorenz, chief highway engineer for the Streets Department, says trucks could drop as much as 2,000 tons of salt on 2,500 miles of roadway.

All that salt has to go somewhere.

Unfortunately, it’s flowing into freshwater beds, with so much salt in some streams it’s causing stress — or even killing — a variety of species.

Take the Tookany Creek in Cheltenham Township. It’s a freshwater tributary that should measure close to zero in salinity and no more than 1,500 micro siemens per centimeter — a measurement of electrical conductivity that rises with salinity.

This was Tookany Creek as of Monday.

Our reporter Frank Kummer explores the effects of rock salt dumped on icy streets, and the alternatives officials are looking into.

🧠 Philly Trivia Time 🧠

Since I received a number of shoutouts about yesterday’s trivia question (appreciate all the emails, by the way) we’re adding that format to our bag of tricks. Today’s question: Who’s the longest-tenured active athlete in Philadelphia? Find the answer and what he’s coming back from here.

a. Claude Giroux, Flyers

b. Joel Embiid, Sixers

c. Fletcher Cox, Eagles

What we’re …

  • 🙏🏾 Reading: Alternatives this pastor suggests will give more at-risk youth as he used to be an opportunity to avoid becoming a statistic.

  • 👀 Watching: This look at the return of the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

  • ☝🏻 Suggesting: If you’re a subscriber, check out today’s front pages of The Inquirer and Daily News right here.

Photo of the day

Enjoy today, Philly. 💯