Fire ruins two South Philly homes, leaves 10-year-old seriously injured

Levi and Louise Pollins took shelter at a neighbor's after fire damaged their home. The Rev. Edmund T. Sherrill (center) joined them.
Levi and Louise Pollins took shelter at a neighbor's after fire damaged their home. The Rev. Edmund T. Sherrill (center) joined them. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 23, 2013

A late-night fire Wednesday on McKean Street in South Philadelphia heavily damaged two houses, displaced nine people, and left a young girl with serious injuries, officials said.

The child was in critical condition in the intensive-care unit of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, according to fire officials.

Neighbors in the 700 block of McKean, where the fire occurred, said the girl is 10. Officials did not release her name.

Firefighters evacuated both homes during the blaze, which began about 11:40 p.m. Wednesday in the first floor of the residence where the child lived with six other people. The fire spread to the home next door, where Levi and Louise Pollins lived.

"I'm still shaken up," Louise Pollins, 80, said Thursday afternoon. She said she had lived in the house with her husband, 94, for six decades.

The Pollinses were sleeping when the fire erupted. "That sleep seemed like it was so good. Then we wake up and hear people hollering," she said.

Firefighters evacuated them from the home. "I just thank God they took us out of there alive," she said.

Louise Pollins said she saw firefighters evacuate her neighbors, including the girl. "I just hope and pray she gets all right," Louise Pollins said. She said the family had lived next door for a couple years.

Executive Fire Chief Richard Davison said firefighters placed the fire under control at 12:13 a.m. Thursday.

The American Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania was assisting nine people, including five children. The families all had places to stay, but the Red Cross provided them with financial assistance for food, clothing, winter coats, and shoes, according to spokesman Dave Schrader. He said the Red Cross was also checking whether the fire affected a third family.

The Pollinses are longtime members of nearby Mount Enon Baptist Church, 500 Snyder Ave. The pastor, the Rev. Edmund T. Sherrill, said he assessed the property damage with the Pollinses on Thursday.

"The bedroom they were sleeping in is completely damaged," Sherrill said.

The pastor described the Pollinses as "an awesome couple," saying they had spent most of their lives raising foster children.

Sherrill said he was praying for the speedy recovery of the child and for the well-being of the families affected by the fire.

Contact Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman at, or follow on Twitter @sabdurr.

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