Philadelphia Firefighter Dies in Building Collapse

PHILADELPHIA — A pizzeria collapsed in Philadelphia early on Saturday morning, killing one firefighter and trapping several others and a building inspector, the Philadelphia Fire Department said.

Many of those trapped were rescued and taken to hospitals, the department said. But a 27-year veteran of the department was pronounced dead at the scene, the department said. As of 10 a.m., no one remained trapped, according to the police.

The building inspector was from the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections, the Fire Department said.

The collapse occurred at Star Pizza Fish and Chicken, in the Fairhill section of North Philadelphia. On Saturday morning, at the intersection of Third Street and West Indiana Avenue, a pile of brick, lumber and broken drywall lay at the building site.

The collapse occurred during a fire response, but the nature of the call was not immediately clear. It was also unclear what caused the collapse.

Scene of the collapse on Saturday.Credit…Philadelphia Fire Department

Elliott Lopez, who lives nearby, said that he was at the restaurant at about 11:30 p.m. Friday. He said he was alerted to the fire and subsequent collapse of the building by a phone call from his brother, who had seen a report of the incident on Facebook.

“I was here last night, bought a pizza, and they’re calling me at 4 o’clock in the morning to say the pizzeria was on fire,” said Mr. Lopez, 55, standing a few yards from where the building’s rubble lay in the street. He said he arrived at the scene early Saturday to move a car that he had parked at the intersection and found that it had already been moved by emergency workers.

Rolando Cortes, 55, who has lived in the neighborhood since the 1980s and said he and his wife would sometimes order pizza from the shop, said he arrived at the intersection at about 7:30 a.m. and found rescuers removing the body of the deceased firefighter.

“They put a flag over him and carried him out on a stretcher,” he said. Twenty minutes later, they brought out another firefighter, who was still alive, he said.

Several agencies were responding, including the Philadelphia police, the Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management, Philadelphia Gas Works, the energy company PECO and the American Red Cross.

In a statement on Twitter, Mayor Jim Kenney said he was grieving with the members of the Fire Department and all city government employees “who lost one of our own in the line of duty today.”

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