Philadelphia firefighter dies in building collapse


PHILADELPHIA — A pizzeria collapsed in Philadelphia early Saturday morning, killing a firefighter and trapping four firefighters and a building inspector, the Philadelphia Fire Department said.

All five people were rescued and taken to hospital, the department said. But a 27-year veteran of the department was pronounced dead at the scene, the department said.

The building inspector, who was released, was from the city’s licensing and inspection department. The others were in stable condition, Philadelphia Fire Department deputy commissioner Craig Murphy said Saturday morning.

The building collapsed shortly before 3.30am following a call for fire which arrived shortly before 2am, according to Mr Murphy. The building housed Star Pizza Fish and Chicken, in the Fairhill section of North Philadelphia, a predominantly Hispanic neighborhood about three miles north of downtown that is dominated by two- and three-story row houses.

“The total collapse” happened after the fire was extinguished, Mr Murphy said. Although it’s unclear what exactly caused the collapse, he said “the building was affected by fire.” A Department of Licensing and Site Inspections official declined to comment.

A firefighter had jumped from the building to escape, Mr Murphy said. He added that during the rescue, rescuers were able to communicate with those trapped, including tapping on debris.

By late Saturday morning, after the rescues, the scene was manned by police, firefighters and officials from Philadelphia Gas Works and the Department of Licensing and Inspections. Workers began loading debris into trucks, but the intersection of Third Street and West Indiana Avenue remained blocked with rubble.

Elliott Lopez, who lives nearby, said he was at the restaurant around 11:30 p.m. Friday. He said he was alerted to the fire and building collapse by a phone call from his brother, who had seen a report of the incident on Facebook.

“I was here last night, bought a pizza, and they called me at 4 a.m. to say the pizzeria was on fire,” said Mr Lopez, 55, standing a few feet from the rubble of the building. was lying in the street. He said he arrived at the scene early Saturday to move a car he had parked at the intersection and found it had already been moved by rescuers.

Rolando Cortes, 55, who has lived in the neighborhood since the 1980s and said he and his wife sometimes order pizza from the store, said he arrived at the intersection around 7:30 a.m. and found rescuers on the train to remove the body of the deceased firefighter. .

“They put a flag on him and carried him on a stretcher,” he said. Twenty minutes later they brought out another firefighter, who was still alive, he said.

Agencies that responded included the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, energy company PECO and the American Red Cross.

In a statement on TwitterMayor Jim Kenney said he was in mourning with members of the fire department and all city government employees “who lost one of our own in the line of duty today.”

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