The collapse of 300 W. Indiana Ave. in the city’s Fairhill area happened just before 3:30 a.m. – about 90 minutes after firefighters were called to tackle the blaze there – and dispatched colleagues who struggled to rescue those trapped inside, 1st Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig said Murphy.
“Our department lost a member who bravely fought a fire and then fell into a building collapse after the fire was over,” he said.
“We’ve just finished pulling our brothers out of this place. It’s going to be a tough couple of weeks,” Murphy told reporters Saturday morning.
Of the six trapped people, five – four firefighters and one employee of the city’s licensing and inspection authority – were rescued and taken to a hospital. The license employee was fired; The four firefighters remained hospitalized in stable condition as of Saturday morning, Murphy said.
The firefighter who died was a 27-year veteran, Murphy said. No names were released immediately.
Details of what led to the fire in the building and what it housed were not immediately available; City records describe it as a three-story structure.
The cause of the collapse is unknown and is being investigated by a firefighter and others, Murphy said.
Firefighters were called to the building, located in a commercial/mixed-use neighborhood of the city, at 1:53 a.m. for a box alarm and found a fire, which they extinguished, Murphy said.
As firefighters focused on displaced residents and the “overhaul” — looking for remaining fire in concealed spaces — the building collapsed, Murphy said.
One person jumped from the second floor to avoid being trapped. Others were systematically pulled out, Murphy said.
During the rescue effort, rescuers engaged in “dialogue” with those trapped, including tapping on the debris “so someone could know someone was in there,” Murphy said.
This was a “lean-to/pancake collapse,” Murphy said, as some collapsed material may have fallen flat onto a surface, while other material may have leaned against a wall and made room. “There were a lot of empty spaces,” Murphy said.
At the site, firefighters and others stood nearby or walked around a large pile — more than a man tall — of metal, wood and other debris, according to video provided by CNN affiliate WPVI. At least nine agencies were helping with the recovery effort, including Philadelphia police and the American Red Cross, the fire department added on Twitter.
CNN’s Michelle Watson contributed to this report.