Lt. Sean Williamson: Officials identify firefighter killed after Philadelphia building collapse; 5 others also injured

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) – Philadelphia officials have identified the firefighter who was killed after being trapped in a building that caught fire in Philadelphia and collapsed early Saturday.

Officials say Lt. Sean Williamson, 51, was a 27-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Williamson was recently posted to Ladder 18 at Hunting Park and leaves behind his mother and son.

“There are going to be a tough few weeks ahead,” Fire Marshal Craig Murphy said at a press conference around 8 a.m.

Williamson and other fire crew members were called to the 300 block of W. Indiana Avenue in the Fairhill section of the city.

The fire broke out around 2 a.m. in a restaurant and a three-story residential building. The fire had been put out, but the building collapsed at 3:24 a.m.

Officials say a second alarm was declared after the collapse.

The collapse was finally brought under control at 7:12 a.m.

Four other firefighters and an inspector from the city’s Licensing and Inspection Department were also trapped at the time of the collapse. A firefighter jumped from the second story of the rubble, Murphy said.

The others have been removed several times.

Two firefighters and the L&I worker were released from Temple University Hospital. A firefighter remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

The names of the members injured in the emergency response were as follows:

  • Lieutenant Sylvester Burton, Fire Marshal

  • Lieutenant Clarence Johnson

  • Firefighter Denis Bailey

  • Firefighter Robert Brennan, Jr.

  • Thomas Rybakowski, Supervisor, Emergency Services Unit, L&I

“You can’t predict that,” Murphy told reporters at a news conference. “It was just a catastrophic accident that (has) really hurt our department.”

Murphy said the building was impacted by the fire, but it was unclear what caused it to collapse.

“The Philadelphia Fire Department mourns with family, friends and the community for all those affected by this tragedy,” Philadelphia Fire Marshal Adam K. Thiel said in a statement. “It is not possible to express in words what we are feeling right now.”

The Philadelphia Fire Department’s Office of the Fire Marshal is investigating the cause of the fire with assistance from the ATF.

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney released a statement following the death of Philadelphia Firefighter Lt. Sean Williamson:

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the tragic passing of Philadelphia firefighter Lt. Sean Williamson. This is a heartbreaking day for our city.

For more than 27 years, he dedicated his life to serving and protecting the people of Philadelphia and sacrificing his life to protect others.

Early this morning, like every day, he exemplified heroism by doing what our first responders do every day: putting on their uniforms, leaving their loved ones and fulfilling their duty to protect and serve the residents of this town.

I share my deepest condolences with everyone who knew and loved Sean. I ask all Philadelphians to keep his family and all members of the Philadelphia Fire Department in your prayers during this difficult time.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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