Officials investigating early morning fatal fire in Southwest Philly

Firefighter and neighbors look on at the aftermath of a fatal fire on the 6500 block of Woodland Avenue.
Photo credit Justin Udo/KYW Newsradio
By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — A fire in Southwest Philadelphia claimed a man's life early Sunday morning, sent another man to the hospital, and displaced nearly a dozen people.

According to officials, the fire started shortly before 6 a.m. at one building on the 6500 block of Woodland Avenue, before its effects spread to the property next door.

"Firefighters began search and rescue operations, and fire suppression operations at the same time," said assistant fire chief Harry Bannon. "74 firefighters approximately fought this fire, and 22 pieces of equipment responded to this fire."

He said ten people were able to get themselves out of the residences, but two were stuck inside.

"One victim was located in the fire property itself on the third floor," Bannon said. "He was removed by firefighters to fire department medic units."

The man, Felix Zongo, was later pronounced dead at Penn Presbyterian Medical Center. Another man was taken to Penn Presbyterian and then to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.

Zongo's cousin, Cachela, said everyone is at a loss for words.

"We're trying to figure out what's going on," she said. "He's a good person, and we're trying to figure out a way to tell his wife."

Zongo's brother Arsene said Felix was a good father and husband, who recently sent his wife on vacation to their home country of Burkina Faso, and had just taken his daughter to a sleepover at her aunt's house.

"He was a nice, quiet, hard worker. We are all shocked," he said.

Bannon adds the fire was placed under control around 6:15 a.m., and they are currently investigating the cause.

"We don't have any evidence right now that smoke alarms were heard by any of the responding firefighters," disclosed Bannon.