Mourners gathered Monday for funeral services for nine children and three adults who died in a Philadelphia fire five days into the new year. It is considered to be the deadliest blaze in the city in more than a century.
A funeral procession on the rain-soaked streets of Philadelphia on Monday morning was followed by services at Temple University's Liacouras Center. The victims were all on the third floor of a duplex north of the city center near the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The structure caught fire on Jan. 5.
Members of the community were invited to the Temple University Liacouras Center memorial and were asked to wear white to honor the victims. As Fox 29 reported, the family said in a statement, "There are no words to express the love and gratitude our family holds in our hearts for our community. We are beyond moved by the outpouring of love and support."
Adam Thiel, fire commissioner for the city of Philadelphia said Tuesday that authorities believe it was a Christmas tree that was ignited by a lighter that started the fire.
"We believe with certainty - so 99 to 100% confidence - that the first item ignited in this blaze was a Christmas tree," Thiel said. "We believe with near certainty, based on the evidence, the ignition source for this tree was a lighter that was located nearby."
The Medical Examiner's office in Philadelphia said that all 12 victims dies of smoke inhalation.