February 21, 2024

The collapse of 300 W. Indiana Ave. in the city’s Fairhill neighborhood came shortly before 3:30 a.m. — about 90 minutes after firefighters were called to fight the fire there — and sent colleagues scrambling to rescue those trapped inside, 1st Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said.

“Our department lost a member bravely fighting a fire and then caught in a building collapse after the fire was over,” he said.

“We just finished up pulling … our brothers out of this place. It’s going to be a rough few weeks coming up,” Murphy told reporters Saturday morning.

Of the six trapped in total, five — four firefighters and a city licensing and inspections worker — were rescued and sent to a hospital. The licensing worker was released; the four firefighters remained hospitalized Saturday morning in stable condition, Murphy said.

The firefighter who died was a 27-year veteran, Murphy said. No names were immediately released.

Firefighters comb through the rubble.
Details about what led to the fire in the building and what it housed weren’t immediately available; city records describe it as a three-story structure.

The cause of the collapse isn’t known and will be investigated by a fire marshal and others, Murphy said.

Firefighters were called to the building — located in a commercial/mixed-use part of town — at 1:53 a.m. because of a box alarm and found a fire, which they put out, Murphy said.

As firefighters focused on displaced residents and “overhaul” — looking for remaining fire in concealed spaces — the building collapsed, Murphy said.

One person jumped from the second floor to avoid getting trapped. Others were pulled out systematically, Murphy said.

During rescue efforts, rescuers had “dialogue” with those trapped, including tapping on the debris “so somebody could know that somebody was in there,” Murphy said.

This was a “lean-to/pancake collapse,” Murphy said, in that while some collapsed material might have fallen flat on a surface, other material might have leaned against a wall, creating space. “There were a lot of void spaces,” Murphy said.

At the site, firefighters and others stood near or walked around a large pile — more than head-high — of metal, wood and other debris, video from CNN affiliate WPVI showed.
At least nine agencies helped with recovery efforts, including Philadelphia police and the American Red Cross, the fire department added on Twitter.

CNN’s Michelle Watson contributed to this report.

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