A fire official said four of his comrades and a city employee were rescued alive from the rubble.
300 W. Indiana Ave., in the Fairhill neighborhood of the city. The crash occurred just before 3:30 a.m., about 90 minutes after firefighters were called in to put out the blaze. Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said.
“One member of our department bravely lost the fire, and then the building collapsed when the fire was over,” he said.
“We’re done dragging … our brothers are leaving this place. The next few weeks will be tough,” Murphy told reporters Saturday morning.
Four firefighters and a city license and inspection worker were rescued and taken to hospital. The licensed worker was released and four firefighters were in a stable condition at the hospital Saturday morning, Murphy said.
Williamson was “one of our most experienced lieutenants,” said Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel said during a conference.
“I’m almost speechless,” Thiel said. “I did not finish crying.”
Authorities identified the other five wounded as Fire Marshal Lieutenant Sylvester Burton. Lieutenant Clarence Johnson; Firefighter Dennis Daly; Firefighter Robert Brennan, Jr.; And Thomas Rybakovsky, supervisor of the city’s licensing and inspection department.
The fire marshal’s office is investigating the cause of the fire with the help of the ATF, the statement said. No cause has yet been identified, it added.
A search and rescue operation after a fire
Firefighters were called to the building at 1:53 a.m. because of the box alarm, and they put out the fire, Murphy said.
Firefighters focused on displaced residents and “transformed” – while searching for remaining fires in hidden areas – the building collapsed, Murphy said. The city’s press release said eight people living in the property had been evacuated.
Someone jumped from the second floor to avoid being trapped. The others were systematically evicted, Murphy said.
During the rescue operation, rescue workers had a “conversation” with the victims, including tapping the wreckage so that “someone could know someone was there,” Murphy said.
Three firefighters and an inspector were initially trapped but were rescued and taken to hospital, the news release said.
Murphy said it was a “lean-to / pancake slope”, with some collapsed objects falling flat on the surface and other material leaning against a wall, creating space. “There were a lot of vacancies,” Murphy said.
The city’s news release said Williamson was one of two fire department members trapped in the rubble after the crash. Authorities said he died at the scene around 6:45 p.m.
The other member, Brennan, was taken to hospital and his condition is reported to be stable.
The fire prevention for the building collapse was brought under control after 7:10 p.m.
CNN’s Michelle Watson and Paradise Afshar contributed to the report.
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