Girl, 8, dies in accidental fire A child playing with matches in a Southwest Phila. home caused the blaze. Two people escaped unhurt.

Posted: April 16, 2003

A youngster playing with matches caused a fast-moving house fire that killed an 8-year-old Southwest Philadelphia girl yesterday, authorities said.

The victim, Cirara Whitaker, was pronounced dead of smoke inhalation at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

Fire officials said engine companies responding to the residence in the 1500 block of South 53d Street at 11:48 Monday night found intense fire on the first floor and heavy smoke on the upper floors.

Two occupants, 61-year-old Katherine Whitaker and a boy, Kavon Whitaker, 9, were able to get out on their own. Firefighters battling their way inside through heat and smoke found Cirara in a third-floor rear bedroom. Paramedics rushed her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead at 12:30 a.m.

The fire was under control in 15 minutes. Investigators did not release the name of the child suspected of playing with matches.

Fire officials said that the house had smoke detectors and that they were operating. Yesterday, firefighters distributed fire-prevention materials to residents in the area of the fire and installed free smoke alarms.

Cirara was the 15th person to die in a fire in the city this year, fire officials said. Last year, the city listed 32 fire deaths, the lowest number since the Fire Department began keeping statistics.

Contact staff writer Thomas J. Gibbons Jr. at 215-854-2642 or tgibbons@phillynews.com.

|
|
|
|
|