A firefighter died and five other were rescued after a burned building collapsed near Philadelphia Saturday morning.
The Philadelphia fire department had responded to a large fire on the 300 block of Indiana Avenue in the Fairhill neighborhood at about 1:50 a.m. After successfully putting the fire out, authorities entered the building to inspect the infrastructure as they investigated what caused the blaze.
That's when the building totally collapsed, trapping five firefighters and an inspector from the licensing and inspections department.
The inspector and four firefighters were pulled from the rubble and taken to a hospital. The remaining firefighter was pronounced dead at the scene, the fire department said.
Mayor Jim Kenney identified the deceased firefighter as 51-year-old Lt. Sean Williamson, who had served 27 years in the department.
Williamson was an experienced and highly respected member of the department who had trained countless new cadet firefighters and served as a Marine, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said.
"This has been a tragic year for the Philadelphia Fire Department, we're just absolutely devastated," he said.
It took crews three hours to free the people who were trapped, Thiel said. Williamson was the hardest to reach.
Two firefighters remained hospitalized in critical but stable condition at the hospital. The other people involved have been treated and released, he said.
Philadelphia is no stranger to building collapses due in part to the age of many of the city’s structures, Thiel said, responds to an average of seven to eight working fires every 24 hours.
Authorities are still investigating what caused the fire in the first place, Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said.
"It's going to be a rough few weeks coming up," he added. “You can’t predict this. This was just a catastrophic accident that really hurt our department.”