A rowhouse fire in Southwest Center City last night left a 5-year-old girl dead and authorities probing whether she had been left home alone.

Officials said the fire inside the three-story rowhouse at 1904 Carpenter St. was reported about 8 p.m. and was declared under control about 20 minutes later.

In the interim, several large pieces of apparatus, including Rescue 1, were called to the scene after reports surfaced that children may have been trapped upstairs.

Firefighters used a ladder truck to reach the third floor, where the girl, whose name was not released, was found. She was on the floor, apparently unconscious, according to officials.

She was handed to paramedics who rushed to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where she was pronounced dead.

Officials said the fire apparently started in the kitchen. No other people were apparently inside when the fire started.

Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers who was at the scene last night, the second consecutive day in which a small child perished in a house fire.

As on so many other occasions, no working smoke alarms were found inside the home.

"We have a list of what people should do" to safeguard their homes, he said. "Use alarms, have an escape plan and practice it."