Two women were dead and a third was in critical condition after a fire broke out inside a West Philadelphia rowhouse Thursday afternoon, officials said.

The fire started in a back room on the second or third floor of the house, in which several people rent rooms, about 3:30 p.m. Firefighters had the blaze under control about a half-hour later.

Two women who lived on the third floor were found and pronounced dead at the scene at 4:10 p.m. A third woman, who lived on the second floor, was taken to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, where she was listed in critical condition.

The Red Cross was assisting four people displaced by the fire, a spokesman said. The cause of the blaze remained under investigation, and the victims remained unidentified Thursday night. n

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