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Bombing MOVE
Philadelphia Toll at 11 As Officials Debate Fire Cause

Searchers found five more people dead today in the rubble of a radical group's fortified house, which was destroyed Monday after an explosive charge was dropped on it by the police.

With the death toll at least 11, city officials issued conflicting reports about what set off the inferno that swept through 61 row houses after starting in the group's headquarters. Philadelphia's Assistant Managing Director, Clarence Mosley said none of the bodies had been identified.

Mayor W. Wilson Goode said he would appoint a commission to prepare a ''complete factual informational report'' on a police operation that ultimately left at least 200 people homeless.

Day of Prayer Proclaimed

Mayor Goode also proclaimed Sunday a day of prayer and asked that all congregations in Philadelphia pray for the dead, the homeless and for ''this entire city.''

Uncertainties seemed to mount through the day about the start of the fire that eventually raged on one side of Pine Street and both sides of Osage Avenue, the street where the radical group had its house.

Mayor Goode and Gregore J. Sambor, the Police Commissioner, both said the city was investigating the possibility that the fire was started by Move members, although Mr. Goode acknowledged that he could not think of any motive they might have had.

Conflicting Theories on Fire

Mr. Sambor, said in a televised interview this morning that the blaze started inside the house.

''We did not create any fire,'' Commissioner Sambor said. ''To the best of our knowledge, the Move members had spread flammable material in their compound and in the neighboring area.''

City officials repeatedly said there was a considerable delay between the dropping of the bomb and the appearance of substantial flames. At one point, Mr. Sambor said 23 minutes elapsed between the time an explosive device dropped from a helicopter by the police hit the building and flames first appeared from it.

Television film showed flames appearing briefly, dying back and then gushing from the roof, which had been soaked by water cannon in earlier attempts to dislodge the pillbox.

Neither Mr. Sambor nor other city officials mentioned any such gap later in the day.

Firefighters gave two reasons Monday for not moving in immediately: fear of being shot at and a wish to burn an opening in the roof for the police to get into.

At a street-corner news conference later in the devastated neighborhood, Fire Commissioner William Richmond, in discussing the presence of flammable materials, said: ''I can't verify, deny, or confirm Commissioner Sambor's speculation or conclusions.''

Doubt on Source of Fire

Asked if the fire started inside the Move headquarters, Mr. Richmond said: ''I'm not convinced it did, I'm not convinced it didn't. That's what an investigation is for.''

Mr. Richmond said it was still uncertain if the Move members had stored gasoline, kerosene or other volatile liquids in their headquarters.

''If there was any, it hasn't been confirmed to my knowledge,'' he said. An Associated Press photograph taken earlier in May, but apparently not published in Philadelphia, showed a man hoisting a can labeled gasoline by rope up to a bunker on the roof.

One resident of Osage Avenue whose home was destroyed said he had discussed the presence of the can with a detective from the neighborhood station house. ''They paid no attention to me,'' said the man, who asked not to be identified.

Of the fire, this man said: ''They didn't use their heads and everybody's paid for it.''

At his news conference, Mayor Goode said he did not know how the fire started. He insisted he would have forbidden use of the explosive charge if authorities had known of any flammable liquids in the house.

''Had there been any knowledge,'' he said, ''of course I would have said no.''

Neighbors Describe Warnings

Neighborhood residents have said they saw gasoline being carried into the headquarters or hoisted by rope to its roof in the days before the police assault and seige. And they have said loudspeakers atop the Move headquarters broadcast warnings, in the hours before the device was dropped, that gasoline had been spread throughout the house and on neighboring buildings.

Mayor Goode was asked if the police had been aware of these amplified warnings and had disregarded them. He avoided a direct response to the question, saying of the explosive device: ''If in fact we had known it would cause a fire, we would not have used it. All the experts we talked to said the device would not cause a fire,'' he said.

In a statement issued Monday night, Mayor Goode said that officials received information six weeks ago that the group was ''possibly storing explosives and weapons in the house.'' He said explosives had ''the potential to blow up the entire block.''

The bomb was made from two one-pound sticks of a water-based high explosive, called Tovex. Introduced in the 1960's as a stable replacement for dynamite, it is commonly used in mining and excavation. It is manufactured by the Du Pont Company.

Robert Swingle, the marketing manager for the explosives division of Du Pont, said that when Tovex exploded it left hot vapors but added that it was ''unlikely to cause fire by itself.''

Removal of Bunker Sought

All the explosive was intended to do, the Mayor insisted, was ''remove'' the bunker so the police and firefighters could pour water and tear gas into the house to try to drive Move members from the building.

The bunker withstood hours of pounding from high-pressure fire hoses Monday.

''The house was not damaged by the device itself,'' the Mayor said. ''The fire for some reason got out of control faster than anyone on the scene anticipated. There was something in that house that caused the fire to go up very quickly. What happened was an accident. There was no plan that called for destruction by fire.''

Some city officials have said the bomb apparently ignited a flammable liquid on the roof. Before the siege, spokesmen for Move said they had spread flammable liquids there. But city officials said they thought the high-powered water jets had washed them away. They said they believed there was little chance a fire would spread.

The Mayor said elimination of the bunker would have freed firefighters and police from the danger of being shot at from inside it.

Doubts on How Many Were There

Authorities say they are uncertain how many Move members were actually in the house. Neighbors say they believed as many as 12 adults and 10 children frequently stayed there. Ten have been accounted for so far.

Two members are known to have fled on Monday. They have been identified as Ramona Johnson Africa, 30 years old, and Birdie Africa, a 13-year-old boy. It was not clear if they were related Members of the group all took the surname Africa.

Three other Move members, all men, shot at the police in an alleyway behind the burning house Monday night, Mr. Goode said. But it is unknown, the Mayor said, if they fled or ran back into the burning house.

Searching Is Tedious

The search of the rubble has been tedious. At 7 A.M., a crane began digging into the debris and depositing mounds of twisted pipe, timbers, bricks and bent steel sheeting in the middle of Osage Avenue. As some police investigators poked with rakes, others walked through the ruins.

Today's discoveries, according to Mr. Mosley, included two twisted and charred shotguns, a rifle, a tripod for a machinegun, a safe and ''unexploded ordnance that could be bomb material.''

Mr. Mosley said those items had been found at the rear of the basement, near a box made of logs and steel.

Yesterday, the authorities found three empty 55-gallon drums, all bulging outward; a cylinder similar to an oxygen tank, and several empty 10-gallon cans and a small generator.

The contents of the containers are being analyzed.

Recently, the group has opened two other homes in West Philadelphia, within two or three miles of the devasted neighborhood. The windows at one home have been covered by boards. Police have the homes under surveillance, and no disturbances have been reported at either dwelling.

It was not clear whether anyone from the Osage Street house had gone to the other two houses.

Some aspects of the fire have evoked an outpouring of generosity by Philadelphians.

At St. Carthage Roman Catholic Church in the neighborhood, now used as a temporary shelter, all 100 pews are draped with layers of donated clothing. For two days, people have walked in carrying bags of garments. These donations have been so bountiful that the nuns today began sending clothing to the Salvation Army for distribution to the burned out families.

Food, furnishings and other household items are being given by stores throughout the city. Businesses have donated $500,000, including $100,000 from Bell of Pennsylvania, which provides the city's telephone service. The money is being held by the Fund for Philadelphia Inc., a nonprofit, public-private social service group. How this money will be distributed has not been determined yet, according to James Murray, a City Hall spokesman.

Temple University has reopened Johnson-Hardwick Hall, an undergraduate dorm empty now that the school year has ended.

Fifty-two people stayed there last night. Officials expect at least 100 by the weekend.

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