First responders say Florida tragedy triggers memories of 2013 Center City collapse

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- In Philadelphia, the Florida tragedy brings back memories of the deadly Center City building collapse in 2013. Six people died when a wall fell, crushing the Salvation Army store on the 2100 block of Market Street.

"Immediately, I was wondering about life," said First Deputy Commissioner Craig Murphy, with the Philadelphia Fire Department.

He says the building collapse near Miami, Florida can happen anywhere.

"This reminds us that anything constructed can come down. If it is built by human hands it can fail," said Murphy.

The 12-story residential building partially collapsed early this morning. Witness are still stunned and in disbelief.

"The building shook and I looked out of the windows and when the dust cleared, the back two-thirds of the building was gone. It was down to the ground," said one witness.

Commissioner Murphy says as a first responder, he knows what's going through of minds of those on the front lines of the collapse.

"The officers and members of those companies are thinking the exact same thing I am thinking. They are thinking, 'Ok, what do we do to stabilize this? And after we stabilize it, how do we get to those who need help,'" said Murphy.

Murphy says the scene in Florida is reminiscent of the 2013 tragedy in Philadelphia when a towering wall, from an adjacent demolition project, collapsed onto the Salvation Army Store in Center City, bringing the building down.

"The results were devastating. We lost six people. Fortunately, we got a lot of people out," said Murphy.

Catastrophic Injury Attorney Nancy Winkler is not connected to the Salvation Army incident but says that collapse, and the one in Florida, are major wake-up calls about building safety.

"When we have people living in condominiums and large high-rise buildings, as we do in Philadelphia and all around, we have to make sure that these buildings are safe for everybody that occupies them," said Winkler.

Pennsylvania Task Force 1 is one of FEMA's 28 search and rescue teams. It is primarily made up of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

Members are trained to respond to collapses like the one in Florida. So far, they have not gotten the call for help but say they are ready if needed.
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