An early-morning fire in a North Philadelphia rowhouse Sunday killed two children and their grandmother, leaving a family overcome with grief and searching for answers about how the blaze started.
“I’m going to miss them,” said Paul Guillory, the father of Monique “Nicky” Guillory, 52, and the great-grandfather of Prudence Figueroa, 9, and Dean Figueroa, 7.
Guillory, speaking just a few feet from the house where his daughter died, said she was “a wonderful person” who was homeschooling her grandchildren. “She loved them kids as if they were her own,” he said.
The fire started around 4:42 a.m. on the 1700 block of North Sixth Street, according to Capt. William Dixon, a fire department spokesman. It took firefighters about an hour to get the blaze under control.
Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel described it as a “very difficult, very challenging” assignment. Dixon said there was heavy fire on the first floor and heavy smoke on the second and third floors.
Thiel told reporters that one of the children — he did not say which one — was pulled from the house and taken to Hahnemann University Hospital but did not survive.
Dixon said Monique Guillory and the other child were later found dead inside the house. It took firefighters additional time to search for them because the third floor had collapsed into the second during the fire, he said.
— Adam K. Thiel (@ThielAdam) May 28, 2017
Dixon said it was too early to determine what may have caused the fire, or whether it was accidental or intentionally set.
April Gonzalez, a niece of Monique Guillory's, said there had been drama between some family members; Paul Guillory flatly said he believed it was intentional.
Dixon said simply that the investigation was ongoing.
Dixon did say that one other occupant in the house escaped the blaze Sunday, but he did not identify that person and did not know whether that person was injured.
Family members said the children’s mother — Monique Guillory’s daughter — lived at the house with a boyfriend.
Fire crews lingered at the scene several hours after the blaze had been extinguished, clearing charred debris out of the house and walking through the property.
Gonzalez said she was still in shock that three family members had died so unexpectedly.
“It’s not going to sink in until I go home and tell my son he’s not going to see his cousins,” she said.