Joseph Bell: Fast-sweeping fire kills retired cop

A fire late Tuesday in Northern Liberties killed a resident and left three firefighters injured, one critically.

The blaze erupted in a row house on the 800 block of North Fifth Street just before 11:30 p.m. It took about 45 minutes to bring under control. After arriving, firefighters launched an “aggressive attack to extinguish the fire and make rescues,” fire department spokesman Capt. Jeff Thompson said.

A flashover, which is a flare up of flames, occurred and led to the injuries of the three unidentified firefighters, according to reports.

Joseph Bell, a 70-year-old retired Philadelphia police officer who used a wheelchair, was found dead on the second floor of the house after the fire had been controlled.

The firefighters were taken to Temple University Hospital and treated for burns and other related injuries. One of the firefighters was released from the hospital yesterday evening, Thompson said. One of the others, who reportedly fell from a ladder at the scene, remained in critical condition yesterday afternoon, he said.

The cause of the fire is still being investigated by the fire marshal’s office.

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