Three people died inside a Kensington rowhouse Monday after an early-morning fire quickly spread through the home, according to city officials.

Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said the blaze began about 4:45 a.m. inside a house on the 2900 block of Rorer Street. One man was pulled from the house but died from his injuries at Temple University Hospital, Thiel said, and the bodies of a man and a woman were found later Monday.

Thiel declined to identify the victims. Neighbors and others on the block Monday morning described the two male victims as brothers who had lived in the house for many years.

Thiel said that the fire was placed under control around 5:30 a.m., but that the house had significant structural damage and that crews were working to safely search and eventually demolish it.

“This building could collapse at any moment,” Thiel said shortly after noon, adding that crews were working to ensure that if the building collapsed it would be controlled and not pose a greater threat.

An excavator was slowly dismantling the rear of the structure Monday morning. Fire Department Battalion Chief Joseph Montague said, “It’s going to be a long process.”

Firefighters outside a house on the 2900 block of Rorer Street in Philadelphia's Kensington section. Three people died in the rowhouse after a fire broke out early Monday morning.
DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Firefighters outside a house on the 2900 block of Rorer Street in Philadelphia's Kensington section. Three people died in the rowhouse after a fire broke out early Monday morning.

The cause of the fire remained under investigation, Thiel said.

City property records show that the property is owned by Christine Hudson and that she bought it for $1 in 2003.

Patrick Beeler, 40, a former neighborhood resident, and Pastor Craig Cerrito of Rock Ministries of Philadelphia said two of the residents were brothers whom they identified only as Jocko and Jason.

Beeler, who said he had known Jocko since elementary school, said the brothers lived in the house with Jason’s girlfriend.

They were “happy, always happy,” Beeler said. “They always helped out at church.”

“Everyone knew them,” he said. “Everyone was friends with them.”

“We loved them,” Cerrito said.