‘One Combined Beating Heart’: South Philadelphia Community Raising Thousands For Families Affected By Explosion, Fire

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A body has been recovered from the rubble of a devastating explosion in South Philadelphia, but the scene is still an unstable danger. A second body is believed to be in the ruins as crews continue to meticulously secure the scene on the 1400 block of South 8th Street.

“We live and regrettably sometimes die to make rescues and it’s tough for us when we sometimes can’t,” Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said.

The fire department confirmed one body has been recovered from the rubble while a second person is still trapped beneath the debris, presumed dead.

“She was totally devastated. The first thing she said was, ‘I lost my son,’” Academy of Palumbo Principal Kiana Thompson said.

One of those killed is the 29-year-old brother of one of Thompson’s 10th-grade students.

“The explosion is bad enough. Imagine losing everything and then on top of that, losing your child,” Thompson said.

So Thompson and her students started an in-school collection for the family, which then turned into a GoFundMe page with thousands in donations. Another GoFundMe page has also been set up for a family.

GoFundMe: Help a Palumbo Family Devastated by Fire

GoFundMe: Help Jon, Chris, and Pete get back on their feet!!

“Eventually, they’re going to have to rebuild from scratch,” Thompson said.

“This community very much has one combined beating heart,” Benna’s Cafe owner Nancy Trachtenberg said.

Trachtenberg, whose Benna’s Cafe is feet from the blast scene, opened her doors to help neighbors gather donations for those affected by the blast.

“Toothpaste. Feminine products. A little bit of everything,” Trachtenberg said.

Already an entire load of clothing, toiletries and food has been put into storage — all of which is collected within hours.

It will be distributed to those who need it the most.

“We’re still trying to accumulate a more exact list of the types of donations that we need,” Trachtenberg said. “There is absolutely no doubt in my mind any day of the week that this community will rise and do for each other.”

All the while on Friday night fire crews remained on site with heavy machinery picking away at the debris and the recovery of a second body still underway.

“We can get in there and hopefully give the family members with missing some solace and some closure,” Thiel said.

In addition to the GoFundMe pages, people can visit the Passyunk Square Civic Association’s website for more ways to help.