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Philly Officer Alerts Family to House Fire

Arson is suspected in a fire that ripped through a South Philadelphia rowhouse Friday, injuring two adults and a child forced to flee the blaze.

Police at the same time credited one of their own -- Lt. Jonathan Josey -- with rushing into the burning building to alert residents.

Officials said the man and woman and 3-year-old girl who escaped suffered smoke inhalation and other injuries but were expected to be released from Hahnemann University Hospital after treatment.

The Philadelphia Fire Department said the fire was reported on the 1700 block of Sigel Street shortly before 6:15 a.m. and witnesses told investigators they saw someone throw something into the house.

Police Capt. Lou Campione said Josey was on duty in plain clothes when he saw the fire at 6:11 a.m. and kicked in the front door, alerting the family who escaped through the back of the house into the alley behind.

Police Sgt. Tim McHugh, in the meantime, contacted the Fire Department and alerted them before the first 911 call came in, Campione said.

Campione said the fire is suspicious and under investigation, but would not go as far as saying it was a firebomb.

Residents in the neighborhood said they heard screams around 6 a.m. as the fire started.

"All I heard was my neighbors screaming 'Help, help,' " said Debra Cody, who lives down the block on Sigel Street.

Susan Cowan, who lives around the corner on 18th Street, said she also heard cries for help and looked out her bedroom window, which opens onto the alley behind Sigel Street. There, she said, she saw an older man "huddled down" who had apparently escaped the fire.

"The firemen came around and got him out," she said. "They got here really fast."

Neighboring homes were also affacted by the fire and the Red Cross of Southeastern Pennsylvania said it was helping a family of five.

Josey has been the news in the past. Last year he was acquitted of punching a woman during the 2012 Puerto Rican parade, an encounter that was caught on a cellphone video and posted online.

Emily Babay of Philly.com contributed to this article.

Copyright 2014 - The Philadelphia Inquirer

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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