The collapse of 300 W. Indiana Ave. in the city’s Fairhill neighborhood took place shortly before 3:30 a.m. — about 90 minutes after firefighters were called to fight the fire there — and caused colleagues to scramble to rescue the prisoners, 1st Deputy Fire Brigade Commissioner Craig Murphy said.
“Our department lost a member who bravely fought a fire and was then caught in a building collapse after the fire was over,” he said.
“We just finished taking… our brothers out of this place. It’s going to be a rough few weeks,” Murphy told reporters Saturday morning.
Of the six detained in total, five — four firefighters and a city permit and inspection officer — were rescued and sent to a hospital. The licensing employee was released; the four firefighters remained in the hospital in stable condition Saturday morning, Murphy said.
The firefighter who died was a 27-year veteran, Murphy said. No names were immediately released.
Details about the cause of the fire in the building and what housed it were not immediately available; city records describe it as a three story structure in a commercial/mixed use city.
The cause of the collapse is unknown and will be investigated by a fire chief and others, Murphy said.
Firefighters were called to the building at 1:53 a.m. due to a box alarm and found a fire, which they extinguished, Murphy said.
As firefighters focused on displaced residents and “overhaul” — looking for leftover fire in hidden spaces — the building collapsed, Murphy said.
One person jumped from the second floor to avoid being trapped. Others were systematically withdrawn, Murphy said.
During rescue efforts, rescuers had “dialogue” with those trapped, including tapping the rubble “so someone could know someone was inside,” Murphy said.
This was a “lean-to/pancake collapse,” Murphy said, in that while some collapsed materials may have fallen flat on a surface, other material may have leaned against a wall, creating space. “There were a lot of empty spaces,” Murphy said.
At the site, firefighters and others stood near or walked around a large pile of metal, wood and other debris, head-high, video from CNN affiliate WPVI shows.
CNN’s Michelle Watson contributed to this report.