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17 people and nonprofit displaced after fire in Philadelphia's Francisville neighborhood

Francisville fire leaves 17 people and a nonprofit displaced
Francisville fire leaves 17 people and a nonprofit displaced 02:32

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – A fire in Francisville displaced 17 people and remains under investigation by the Philadelphia Fire Marshal's Office.

At the corner of Ridge Avenue and Francis Street, the faint sound of a fire alarm in this building, gutted by the fire, can be heard from the sidewalk. Outside, caution tape remains, while shattered glass and debris litter the street.

"This is a tragic event to me. Trust me, trust me, and I thank God nobody got hurt," Edna Williams said. 

The 85-year-old said on Tuesday she ran the Mary Jane Home Enrichment Center at 1622 Ridge Avenue. She operated the organization for more than 50 years, she said, serving people experiencing homelessness in Francisville.

The building will be demolished, a spokesperson for the Office of Emergency Management said.

"The city is going to tear it down, they said, and we're nonprofit and we don't really have the funds," Edna Williams said.

Her son, John Williams, told CBS News Philadelphia he was inside when the fire started, along with four others.

"I heard the fire alarm go off and I want to see what zone it is, OK? It said it was zone two and it was on the second floor, so I went upstairs and saw the flames," John Williams said.

John Williams said he then ran across the street to the fire station for help. Ladder 1 reopened, after nearly 15 years, at the end of last year, thanks to federal funding.

"Thank God the engine was here… The hundred-foot ladder — wow, they saved the day," John Williams said.

RELATED: President Biden announces grant to allow 3 Philadelphia fire companies to reopen

The Philadelphia Fire Department said at least 120 members battled the heavy, thick smoke and fire for hours Monday night. One firefighter suffered minor injuries but is expected to make a full recovery, a spokesperson said Tuesday.

No one else was injured, according to the fire department. A spokesperson said the displaced people are getting help from organizations including the Salvation Army and Red Cross.

Some of the people who were displaced were taken to city-funded intake centers, and case workers are helping them find long-term housing, a spokesperson for the Office of Emergency Management said.

"I know it's just brick and mortar, but they didn't tear our spirit down because we're gonna rebuild and come up strong," Edna Williams said.

The fire department said on social media residents can call 311 to get smoke detectors.

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