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Apartment Residents Jump To Escape Deadly Fire

January 1, 1996

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ A fire broke out in a four-story apartment complex just minutes into the new year, killing a child inside and a man who jumped from a window.

Three adults and a child were seriously injured, fire officials said. Some 35 other residents of the building gathered at a shelter in a nearby church.

Chief Charles Lindsay said firefighters found a 3-year-old child dead in one of the apartments. And a man _ one of five people who jumped from windows _ was pronounced dead at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Lindsay said.

Deputy Fire Commissioner Matthew McCorry said the fire spread quickly over three floors.

``It’s very unusual for a fire to start and spread this quickly if it’s an accidental fire. This is a fire we’re going to be taking a real, real close look at,″ McCorry told radio station KYW.

Firefighters found five people on the ground who had jumped from a third-floor apartment, including the man who died, Lindsay said. The first engine company on the scene saw the last two of them drop from a gray blanket strung from the third floor, he said. The blanket still hung from the window after the fire was doused.

The fire in a working-class neighborhood of row homes and brick apartment houses was reported at 12:14 a.m. and declared under control about an hour and a half later.

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