Officials identify Philadelphia firefighter killed after building collapse in Fairhill

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

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Sunday, June 19, 2022
Officials identify firefighter killed after Fairhill building collapse
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Officials say Lieutenant Sean Williamson, 51, was a 27-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

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

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

Williamson was most recently assigned to Ladder 18 in Hunting Park and leaves behind his mother and son.

"It's going to be a rough few weeks coming up," 1st Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said at a media briefing around 8 a.m.

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

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

Officials say a 2nd-alarm was declared after the collapse occurred.

The collapse was eventually placed under control at 7:12 a.m.

Four other firefighters and an inspector with the city's Department of Licenses and Inspections were also trapped at the time of the collapse. One firefighter jumped from the second story of the rubble, Murphy said.

The others were pulled out at various times.

Two firefighters and the L&I worker have been released from Temple University Hospital. Two firefighters remain hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

The names of the injured members during the emergency response were:

  • Lieutenant Sylvester Burton, Fire Marshal
  • Lieutenant Clarence Johnson
  • Firefighter Dennis Daly
  • Firefighter Robert Brennan, Jr.
  • Thomas Rybakowski, Supervisor, Emergency Services Unit, L&I

"You can't predict this," Murphy told reporters at a news conference. "This was just a catastrophic accident that (has) really hurt our department."

Murphy said the building had been affected by the fire, but it was unclear what caused it to come down.

"The Philadelphia Fire Department is grieving with the family, friends, and community for all those affected by this tragedy," said Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam K. Thiel in a statement. "It is not possible to express in words what we feel at this time."

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

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney issued a statement on the death of Philadelphia Firefighter Lieutenant Sean Williamson:

"I am deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of Philadelphia Firefighter Lieutenant 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 sacrificed his life protecting others.

Early this morning, like every day, he exemplified heroism by doing what our first responders do every day: put on their uniform, leave their loved ones, and carry out their sworn duty to protect and serve the residents of this city.

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 at this difficult time."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.