EAST LANSDOWNE, Pa. (AP) — Two police officers were wounded Wednesday by gunfire at a suburban Philadelphia home that was later set on fire and consumed by the blaze, possibly with multiple people inside, authorities said.
Officers from East Lansdowne, Lansdowne and Upper Darby responded to the house in East Lansdowne in the afternoon after a 911 call reporting that an 11-year-old girl had been shot, Delaware County District Attorney Jack Stollsteimer said.
They immediately came under fire. One officer was shot in the arm and the other in the leg, officials said. They were both described by Stollsteimer as male, veteran officers. One works for the East Lansdowne department, the other for Lansdowne.
Officers from Upper Darby saved their lives by dragging them out of danger, he added, and “we expect them to be perfectly fine.”
The house was then set on fire, he said. Intense flames were initially seen rising from the roof and top floor of the three-story home before spreading to the lower levels, largely gutting the structure.
By evening the blaze appeared to have been all but extinguished, with smoke still rising from the wreckage as firefighters worked the scene. The side of a neighboring home was also charred.
The entire block was evacuated, according to the district attorney.
There was no immediate word on the condition of anyone inside the home, including the child who was reported wounded.
“We don’t know who was in the house, we don’t know who the shooter was, we don’t know how many people are in there, we don’t know their status, we don’t know if they’re alive,” Stollsteimer said.
He added later in the evening that multiple people may have been inside while the home burned and that at least a half-dozen, including children, remained unaccounted for.
“Our fear is there may be multiple people inside that home who have died,” he said. “We are hopeful that that is not true.”
He said the fire was still smoldering and no one would be able to search the site until Thursday.
The whereabouts of the person who fired at the officers also weren’t clear, but Sollsteimer said there were “no threats to the community from that house.”
Upper Darby Superintendent Timothy Bernhardt described a volatile and dangerous scene when officers from his department officers responded to the home and were able to rescue the two wounded agents.
“All officers that were on scene initially were taking on fire, and then when they removed themselves from it, there was no more gunfire at that point,” Bernhardt said.
A WPVI-TV helicopter over the scene captured officers with ballistic shields dragging an officer down a sidewalk to an ambulance.
Later in the evening, Stollsteimer said he had seen the wounded officers at the hospital and they were doing well. Their names haven’t been released.
East Lansdowne is about 5 miles (8 kilometers) west of downtown Philadelphia.
This story has been updated to correct that one of the officers is with the East Lansdowne department and the other is with Lansdowne.
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