CHESTER, Pa. (CBS) – Two people, including a child, were killed and another child is fighting for his life after a two-alarm fire swept through an apartment in Chester, officials say. Fire crews responded to the blaze that broke out at an upstairs apartment, near the intersection of Concord Avenue and West 2nd Street, in Chester at 2:45 a.m. Sunday.
Loved ones identify the man who was killed as Ralph Freeman, also known as Rasool.
"He was a great man, great dad. He tried to raise his kids the best way he could," Freeman's sister, Veronica, said.
Those characteristics echoed throughout the community as friends say the single dad did anything for his children who they identified as James and Jeremiah.
Neighbors say Freeman and his two boys lived in a second-floor apartment.
Firefighters say they had to use ground ladders to remove two boys, a 7-year-old and 4-year-old, from the second floor. They were found in a bed in the back of the building.
Both boys were rushed to an area hospital where authorities say the 7-year-old, believed to be James, was pronounced dead.
The 4-year-old, believed to be Jeremiah, was transferred to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in extremely critical condition.
"I couldn't imagine this happening to my kids," family friend Doug Caldwell said.
Officials say the building is listed as commercial but there are three or four apartments on the second floor.
Neighbors tell CBS3 they tried to warn Freeman about excess electric cables they said he had running through his apartment.
PECO was on the scene but would not confirm if that's why they were there.
"[An ] investigation is going on by Chester police, no information on that," Fire Commissioner William Rigby said.
Meanwhile, the community wants Freeman to be remembered as a phenomenal father.
"He wasn't a bad person, anytime you have a make taking care of two kids, you take your hat off to him," family friend Michael Hurst said.
Fire officials are investigating the cause of the fire.
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