The Liberian ambassador came to Philadelphia City Hall today to meet with the mayor’s chief of staff and some members of city council. He is still searching for answers about Saturday’s fire that killed four kids in southwest Philadelphia, an area with a lot of Liberian immigrants.
Patrick Sanyeah, who lost a 4-year-old and a 3-week-old in the fire, attended the meetings with the ambassador. Even though the first fire truck was on scene about three minutes after the first call to 911, and more arrived shortly after, Sanyeah says firefighters didn’t do their job.
“You didn’t do nothing, because you sat there and let the kids burn into ashes,” he said. “Four kids. You sat there. How can you sit there as firepeople and and let people escape through the window? Little babies escaped through the windows. They ran to the fire station. How were you there in three minutes and people escaped into the house window running themselves? You are supposed to go in there and rescue them.”
Tuesday night the fire department played the 911 tapes from the incident and laid out in detail why it believes the incident was responded to quickly.
But Dahn Dennis, president of the Liberian Association of Pennsylvania, says their community needs a liaison with police and fire officials.
“We, the community, feel disconnected from the police district within that area,” said Dennis. “Maybe it is our fault. Maybe we don’t identify with them, or maybe they are not reaching out to them — but what can we do to be able to help one another?”
Liberian Ambassador Jeremiah Sulunteh has a lot of questions about the fatal fire.
“Was this something that could have been prevented? What actions were taken? What was the timing for that, because our concern is how can we prevent something like this from happening going forward,” Sulunteh said.
Members of Philadelphia City Council say they are considering holding hearings. The cause of the blaze is still under investigation.