Plymouth Hall Update

PHILADELPHIA, PA (October 8, 2004) - Philadelphia Housing Authority crews have responded with a tremendous sense of urgency in the wake of a tragic four-alarm fire that swept through PHA's Plymouth Hall Senior apartment building in North Philadelphia. PHA Executive Director Carl Greene says the agency is directing all resources necessary to ensure the safety and security of the building's residents.

"Our senior residents are our most vulnerable clients. Many of them have extraordinary healthcare and security needs and we are seeing to it that those needs are met," says Greene.

Fire broke out in a first floor unit of the four-story building. Flames and smoke quickly spread to the floors above. Residents throughout the building were alerted to the fire by the buildings internal smoke alarm system. Although fire crews responded quickly, two residents died from smoke inhalation and one resident was critically injured and is being treated at Temple University Hospital. If not for the courageous effort of able-bodied residents and neighbors nearby, fire officials say more lives may have been lost.

Plymouth Hall was home to 67 residents. PHA is temporarily housing 25 of those residents at Riverview Homes, a city-owned emergency housing shelter. The remainder of the residents are staying with friends or family.

PHAs relocation specialists are identifying available apartments in other PHA developments and will help residents move to those locations as quickly as possible.

"This is obviously a traumatic experience for these residents and we want to get them into permanent homes at the earliest possible moment," Carl Greene says. The building itself sustained severe smoke and fire damage. PHA is assessing the extent of that damage to determine whether it's feasible to renovate the structure.

The tragedy at Plymouth Hall has led to an outpouring of generosity from the Philadelphia community. Offers and gifts of food, blankets and financial assistance have been pouring in. Agencies such as The Red Cross, The Philadelphia Senior Center and The Philadelphia Corporation for Aging have also been extremely responsive with emergency services and help.

The Philadelphia Fire Marshall is investigating to determine the cause of the fire.