PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel was emotional at a press conference on Saturday after a city firefighter was killed and five other people were injured after a building collapsed in Fairhill. Fifty one year-old Lt. Sean Williamson died in the building collapse.
Thiel said the collapse on West Indiana Avenue is the latest incident in what has been a tragic year for the Philadelphia Fire Department.
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“For our members, this is just another tragic event in a very tragic year,” Thiel said. “
Earlier in 2022, a house fire in Fairmount killed 12 people, including nine children. It was the deadliest single fire in Philadelphia in at least a century.
In April, a father and his three sons died due to a house fire in Kensington. The mother of the boy’s survived after she was pushed out the window of the home by her partner.
“The worst thing for any firefighter or any medic, we all swear to save lives and protect property, and any time can’t do that – whether it’s a resident of the city and certainly if it’s one of our own sisters and brothers, we feel it very deeply,” Thiel said. “This has been a tragic year for the Philadelphia Fire Department. We’re just absolutely devastated.”
Williamson, a 27-year veteran of the department and former marine, was recently assigned to Ladder 18 in the city’s Hunting Park neighborhood.
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Thiel said Williamson was one of the most experienced lieutenants in the department. He leaves behind his mother and son.
“I’m almost speechless,” Thiel said. “I’m not done crying but I’ve cried once already.”
Five others were rescued from the rubble.
Firefighters Robert Brennan Jr. and Dennis Daly are in critical but stable condition. Both are at Temple University Hospital.
Lieutenants Sylvester Burton and Clarence Johnson were both treated and released from Temple. Inspector Thomas Rybakowski was also treated and released.
To honor Williamson’s legacy, Mayor Jim Kenney says all city of Philadelphia flags will be flown at half staff for 30 days.
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“Tragically we’re no strangers to line of duty deaths, that doesn’t make it any easier,” Theil said. “We’re absolutely grieving, we’re mourning, we have a lot more crying and a lot more processing to do as this unfolds and we’ll move forward by honoring Lieutenant Williamson.”