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Four Children Die in House Fire

July 29, 1985

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Fire swept through a rowhouse Sunday, killing four boys, but two adults and two other children managed to escape, authorities said.

Three of the bodies were found huddled on a mattress in a rear bedroom on the second floor, with the oldest boy on top of the younger two in a ″somewhat protective position,″ fire Lt. John Quinn said. The fourth body was found in a front bedroom of the two-story house. The boys ranged in age from 2 to 9 years old.

The fire, which started on the first floor, was reported just before 9 a.m. and brought under control within 25 minutes, Quinn said. The cause was not determined.

The two adults, an infant and a 7-year-old boy escaped from a second-story window by jumping onto an awning, which broke their fall into shrubs, said James Blakeney, a 64-year-old neighbor.

The man tried unsuccessfully to climb back up the awning and get into the house, but was turned back by heavy smoke, Blakeney said.

Another neighbor, Terrance Harris, said he was in his kitchen when he heard hollering.

″My father kicked in the back door but we realized we couldn’t get through the kitchen because of the smoke,″ Harris said.

″I grabbed a ladder and tried to get in the back windows but couldn’t. Every time we opened a window, the smoke came out. It was too hot to go in. It was ugly, real ugly,″ he said.

The survivors were taken to Germantown Hospital, where they were admitted in guarded condition with smoke inhalation and burns, hospital spokeswoman Rebecca Morris said. The adults, Jerry Rice, 29, and Charlotte Perkins, 26, were in the intensive care unit, she said.

The surviving boys, James Rice, 7, and 4-month-old Jerron Rice, were transferred to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children and were in guarded condition with burns and smoke inhalation, the hospital said. The dead were tentatively identified as Jerry Rice, 9, Michael Perkins, 5, Lee Rice, 3, and Jamar Perkins, 2, the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s office said. Fire officials did not know the exact relationships but said all were related.

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