13 killed including Seven children in Philadelphia house fire

13 killed including 7 children in Philadelphia house fire. A large fire tore through a two-unit house early Wednesday, killing 13 people, including seven children, and sending two people to hospitals, fire officials said. They warned the numbers could grow as firefighters inspected the row house, where officials said 26 people had been staying.

The four smoke alarms in the building in Philadelphia’s Fairmount neighborhood, which was public housing, do not appear to have been working, fire officials said. The blaze’s cause was not determined, but officials shaken by the death toll — apparently the highest in a single fire in the city in at least a century — vowed to get to the bottom of it.

“I knew some of those kids — I used to see them playing on the corner,” said Dannie McGuire, 34, fighting back tears as she and Martin Burgert, 35, stood in the doorway of a home around the corner. They had lived there for a decade, she said, “and some of those kids have lived here as long as us.”

“I can’t picture how more people couldn’t get out — jumping out a window,” she said.

City and fire officials did not release the names or ages of those killed in the blaze, which started before 6:30 a.m.

“It was terrible. I’ve been around for 35 years now and this is probably one of the worst fires I have ever been to,” said Craig Murphy, first deputy fire commissioner, at a news conference near the scene later in the morning.

“Losing so many kids is just devastating,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Keep these babies in your prayers.”

Crews responded around 6:40 a.m. and saw flames shooting from the second-floor front windows of the home in an area believed to be a kitchen, Murphy said. The odd configuration of the house, which had been split into two apartments, made it difficult to navigate, he said, but crews were able to bring it under control in less than an hour.

There were 18 people staying in the upstairs apartment on the second and third floors, and eight staying in the downstairs apartment, which included the first floor and part of the second floor, he said.

The smoke alarms had been inspected annually, and at least two had been replaced in 2020, with batteries replaced in the others at that time, Philadelphia Housing Authority officials said.

“It’s just heartbreaking,” said Andrea Duszenczuk, 68, whose family has long owned a home in the neighborhood and who walks her dog past the burnt home regularly. “A lot of these homes have old wiring — these are probably 125 years old. Who knows what’s behind the walls.”

Television news footage showed ladders propped up against the smoke-blackened front of the house, with all its windows missing. Holes remained in the roof where firefighters had broken through.

The Duchess of Sussex will receive the nominal sum of one British pound — about $1.35 — after a court found that the tabloid Mail on Sunday invaded her privacy.

The Guardian reported the figure Wednesday, 10 days after the Mail decided to forgo further appeals and published a statement acknowledging that the American-born duchess, the former actress Meghan Markle, had won her lawsuit.

The figure covers only the duchess’ claims for invasion of privacy. The Mail will pay another unspecified sum for copyright infringement and lawyer fees, the Guardian reported, citing court documents.

The Mail on Sunday’s statement, which appeared Dec. 26, said “financial remedies have been agreed” upon but provided no details.

The settlement brings to a close a long-running lawsuit filed after the Mail on Sunday published a series of stories in 2019 based on a personal letter Meghan wrote to her estranged father after her marriage to Prince Harry.

“I think they just kind of cut their losses,’’ said Mark Stephens, a London attorney who wasn’t involved in the case, citing the seven-figure legal fees incurred by both sides. “So I think it probably was right of both parties to draw a line in the sand and … close this particular case.”

The duchess sued Associated Newspapers for misuse of private information and copyright infringement.

The newspaper’s lawyers disputed her claim, arguing that she crafted the letter knowing it might be seen by the news media. Correspondence between Meghan, 40, and her then-communications secretary, Jason Knauf, showed that the duchess suspected her father might leak the letter to journalists and wrote it with that in mind.

After a lower court rejected the Mail’s arguments, the newspaper took the case to the Court of Appeal.

In the appeal, Associated Newspapers also argued that Meghan made private information public by cooperating with Omid Scobie and Carolyn Durand, authors of “Finding Freedom,” a sympathetic book about her and Harry.

The duchess’ lawyers had previously denied that she or Harry collaborated with the authors. But Knauf testified that he gave the writers information and discussed it with Harry and Meghan.

The information provided a dramatic twist in the case. In response, Meghan apologized for misleading the court about the extent of her cooperation with Durand and Scobie.

The duchess said she didn’t remember the discussions with Knauf when she gave evidence earlier in the case, and had “absolutely no wish or intention to mislead the defendant or the court.”

The suspect was covered from head to toe, skulking through the dark streets of the nation’s capital before methodically placing two explosives outside the offices of the Republican and Democratic national committees.

Only 17 hours later — and just before the U.S. Capitol was stormed by a sea of pro-Trump rioters — were the pipe bombs discovered. It quickly became one of the highest-priority investigations for the FBI and the Justice Department.

But the trail grew cold almost immediately. A year later, federal investigators are no closer to learning the person’s identity. And a key question remains: Was there a connection between the pipe bombs and the riot at the Capitol?

The suspect is among hundreds of people still being sought by the FBI following last year’s deadly insurrection. So far, 250 people seen on video assaulting police at the Capitol still haven’t been fully identified and apprehended by the FBI, and another 100 are being sought for other crimes tied to the riot.

The investigation has been a massive undertaking for federal law-enforcement officials. More than 700 people have been charged with federal crimes stemming from the Jan. 6 attack, and arrests are still being made regularly.

For the FBI agents working on the cases, the job is far from over. Agents and investigative analysts have been poring over thousands of hours of surveillance video, going second by second in each video to try to capture clear images of people who attacked officers inside the Capitol.

“This investigation takes time because it is … a lot of painstaking work that they look at the video kind of frame by frame,” said Steven D’Antuono, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s field office in Washington.

In one case, police body-camera footage captures a man using a cane with electric prods on the end jabbing at officers and shocking them as they fight to hold back the crowd trying to break through a barricaded line of officers at one of the doors of the Capitol. The crackling sound of the electricity can be heard as he jabs his cane into one of the officers. The man, known only as “AFO114” — using shorthand for “assaulting a federal officer” — is still being sought.

“The assaults against the police officers are extremely serious,” D’Antuono said. More than 100 police officers were attacked by rioters on Jan. 6, some by multiple people and some multiple times, he said.

In another video, a man is seen repeatedly bashing a police officer over the head with a 6-foot metal pole as he tries to push his way into the Capitol. And a third shows a man spraying some kind of chemical from a can into the faces of other officers.

“There is still a lot of work to be done on this,” D’Antuono said. “There were a lot of people up there at the Capitol, a lot of people that either committed violence up there [or] did other unlawful actions up there.”

In the search for the person who left the pipe bombs at the RNC and DNC offices, investigators have interviewed more than 900 people, collected 39,000 video files and examined more than 400 leads. They have dived into the components of the explosives and have been working to try to discern anything they can about the suspect, from analyzing the person’s gait to trying to collect information about purchases of the distinctive Nike sneakers the person wore.

But they are still no closer to determining the suspect’s identity and are hoping renewed attention to the video may give rise to a tip to crack the case.

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