A Philadelphia firefighter has died after a fire Saturday morning caused a building to collapse, trapping six people under rubble, fire officials said.
The firefighter, a 27-year veteran of the department, was pronounced dead at the scene of the blaze, the Philadelphia Police Department said in a statement on Twitter. Firefighters did not immediately identify the deceased firefighter.
“This is a sad day for the Philadelphia Fire Department,” Craig Murphy, 1st Assistant Fire Marshal, said at a press conference Saturday. “Unfortunately, our department lost a member bravely fighting a fire and caught up in a building collapse.”
Fire crews responded to a commercial building fire around 2 a.m. Saturday, Murphy said. What initially appeared to be a “fairly routine fire” turned into a “total collapse” of the building around 3:30 a.m., he said.
FIREFIGHTER SUICIDE RATES:Policemen, firefighters commit suicide more often than in service. Why Rates Remain High
Six people – a building inspector and five firefighters – were trapped in the building during the collapse, Murphy said.
Four of the firefighters and the inspector were taken to hospital, and the inspector has since been released, he said. Murphy said he doesn’t know the exact status of the four firefighters who remain hospitalized, but said they all appear to be in stable condition.
Murphy described the collapse as a “lean-to/pancake collapse” with many “empty spaces” where people could have been trapped. Authorities are now investigating the cause of the fire and collapse, he said.
One person jumped from the building’s second story to avoid being trapped, Murphy said. Others were talking with rescuers and tapping debris to help crews identify where they were.
FIREFIGHTER RECRUITMENT:Despite record funding, firefighting efforts in the United States face a major hurdle: hiring firefighters
Murphy said he knew the deceased firefighter well and asked the public to pray for the department and the firefighter’s family, calling the incident “a catastrophic accident that really hurt our department.”
“People are just starting to chill because we just finished getting our brother out of here,” Murphy said. “…It’s going to be a tough few weeks.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said on Twitter that he is in mourning with the fire department and the city of Philadelphia, “who lost one of our own in the line of duty today.”