A small teddy bear memorial sat on the steps of a charred rowhouse in Kensington yesterday, where a woman was killed in a blaze police said was arson.
Jonathan Tirado, 19, has been charged with murder, arson and related offenses for setting the fire that killed Loretta Cannon, 58, and severely injured another resident, described by a neighbor as Cannon's boyfriend.
The fire erupted just before 1 a.m. yesterday on the 2100 block of East Cambria Street. Police said Tirado started the fire after arguing for weeks with a third resident who lived in an adjacent apartment on the second floor and who had recently evicted him.
Tirado returned to the home late Wednesday night and set boxes on fire in a hallway shared by the two neighbors, police said.
Police arrived to find the home ablaze and Cannon, who had jumped from the second floor, lying on the pavement suffering from severe burns. She was taken to Temple University Hospital, where she pronounced dead at 1:29 a.m.
Firefighters found a 52-year-old man inside with burns all over his body. He also was taken to Temple, where police said he was in critical condition.
"The building was fully engulfed very fast," said Homicide Sgt. William Gallagher. "It's a horrible act, and a very tragic incident."
Fire officials said the home had no working smoke alarms.
A neighbor across the street who said she knew Tirado and his family described Cannon as a sweet neighbor who "kept to herself."
"She was a beautiful person," said Marilynn Toledo, 30. "She'd give my kids candy. She was loved on this block. That shouldn't have happened to her. She did not deserve it."