ATF’s national response team joins investigation into the building collapse that killed Philadelphia firefighter Lieutenant Sean Williamson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – New developments come in the investigation of a fire and building collapse in Fairhill that killed one Philadelphia firefighter and injured five others. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives National Response Team Has been stationed in Philadelphia to assist with the investigation.

“Whenever a firefighter loses his life in the line of duty, it is a tragic loss to the community,” Special Agent Matthew Varisco, in charge of the ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division, said in a release. “We grieve for the families of these firemen and resolve to work with our partners along with the Philadelphia Fire Department and the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s office to determine the origin and cause of this fire, which resulted in the death of a firefighter.” died and others were injured.”

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Philadelphia firefighters were called to extinguish a restaurant fire on the 300 block of West Indiana Avenue in North Philadelphia early Saturday. CBS3 has learned that the upper floors were used as residential space and the lower floors were occupied by a pizza parlor.

Firefighters brought the fire under control within 15 minutes and rescued eight people living in the building.

Lieutenant Sean Williamson and five others went back inside the building to make sure there were no hidden fires and an hour later the building collapsed just before 3:30 a.m.

Sean Williamson, 27-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department

Williamson, a 27-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department, died as a result of the collapse. Williamson was recently assigned to Ladder 18 in the Hunting Park section of the city.

Officials say it was a miracle that no one survived the collapse of the building.

Firefighters worked to rescue four other firefighters and an L&I worker. Firefighters Robert Brennan Jr., Dennis Daly, Lieutenant Sylvester Burton, Lieutenant Clarence Johnson and Inspector Thomas Rybakovski were rescued from the wreckage.

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The ATF says the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s office requested assistance from the ATF’s National Response Team (NRT) with the damage to property caused by the building collapse. NRT provides immediate and continuous nationwide response capability, usually deployed within 24 hours of being notified.

The team has access to state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained personnel who are experts in determining the origin and cause of fire. The NRT will work closely with the Philadelphia Police Department and the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s office to determine the origin and cause of the fire.

Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel gets emotional during a press conference on Saturday.

“I’m almost speechless,” said Thiel. “I haven’t cried but I’ve already cried once.”

Thiel said Williamson was one of the department’s most experienced lieutenants. Lieutenant Williamson had trained countless new firefighters, and cadet firefighters, and served in the US Marine Corps.

“Worst of all, for any firefighter or any medic, we all swear to save lives and protect property, and at no time can we do that – whether it’s a city dweller and of course if it Be one of our own sisters and brothers, we feel this very deeply,” Thiel said. “This has been a sad year for the Philadelphia Fire Department. We are absolutely devastated.”

He has left behind his mother and son.

To honor his legacy, Mayor Jim Kenney says flags will be flown at half-staff in Philadelphia for 30 days.

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Stay tuned to CBSphilly.com, CBS3, and CBS News Philly for continued coverage.

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