According to CBS News, two Philadelphia firefighters were killed on Monday, while battling a big warehouse fire in Kensington early morning. Three others were injured.
According to a statement released by the firefighters’ union, Neary was 59 years old. He had 38 years with the Philadelphia Fire Department after serving three years in the Philadelphia Police Department. He leaves behind a wife and three children.
Sweeney was 25 years old. He is the son of a retired Philadelphia fire captain.
“We are asking for prayers for the family. We are asking for everybody to be supportive,” Philadelphia fire commissioner Lloyd Ayers said at a press conference.
Calls for the fire came in at about 3:13 a.m. “Responding firefighters issued four additional alarms as the flames burned out of control for two hours and embers set surrounding buildings ablaze. and the fire quickly went to five alarms before being placed under control at about 5:21 a.m.”, CNN reported.
At that time firefighters were in the adjacent furniture store, doing a routine check when the walls collapsed, trapping the five firemen.
Authorities said to CNN, that one of the firefighters was able to “self extricate,” but Neary, Sweeney, Nally and Chaney, had to be pulled from the rubble by fellow firemen. Firefighters were forced to move brick and timber by hand and cut through some materials to rescue the others. Neary was pronounced dead at the scene. Sweeney died at Temple University Hospital. Officials said medics performed CPR on Nally who was then stabilized at the hospital and is listed in guarded condition in the ICU. Chaney was also transported to Temple where he was treated and released.
Residents from 31 homes in the area of the fire were evacuated to a shelter at BVM Church.
According to CNN News, in a press conference Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Everett Gillison said city officials received complaints last November about the conditions in the main property involved in the blaze.
Inspectors visited the building, found problems and cited the property’s owner. When they went back in December and found nothing had been done, they issued another citation. The city pushed to bring the owners to court after the third citation, Gillison said.
The building’s owner had failed to pay $60,000 in taxes and $12,000 in water fees, the deputy mayor said. Finally, the building was being scheduled for a “sheriff’s sale” — a public auction for back taxes.
Richard Negrin, the city’s managing director, said investigators will determine if the fire was caused by arson or negligence.
He add:”It is first and foremost the responsibility of the building owner to be in compliance with the code.”
The last time multiple Philadelphia firefighters died in the line of duty was 2004, Ayers said, and the last firefighter death was in 2006.