The collapse of 300 W. Indiana Ave. in the Fairhill area of the city happened shortly before 3.30am – about 90 minutes after firefighters were called to battle the blaze – and sent colleagues rushing to rescue those trapped inside , 1st Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy said.
“Our department lost a member bravely fighting a fire and then caught in a building collapse after the fire was over,” he said.
“We just finished pulling … our brothers out of here. The next few weeks are going to be tough,” Murphy told reporters on Saturday morning.
Of the six people trapped in total, five – four firefighters and a municipal licensing and inspection worker – were rescued and sent to hospital. The licensing officer was released; the four firefighters remained hospitalized Saturday morning in stable condition, Murphy said.
The deceased firefighter was a 27-year veteran, Murphy said. No names were immediately released.
The cause of the collapse is not known and will be investigated by a fire marshal and others, Murphy said.
Firefighters were called to the building at 1:53 a.m. to a box alarm and found a fire, which they put out, Murphy said.
As firefighters focused on displaced residents and “surveyed” — looking for remaining fires in hidden spaces — the building collapsed, Murphy said.
A person jumped from the second floor to avoid being trapped. Others were taken down systematically, Murphy said.
During rescue efforts, rescuers had a “dialogue” with those trapped, including tapping on the debris “so someone could tell someone was in there,” Murphy said.
It was a “lean-to/pancake collapse,” Murphy said, as some collapsed material could have fallen flat on a surface, other material could have leaned against a wall, creating from space. “There were a lot of empty spaces,” Murphy said.
CNN’s Michelle Watson contributed to this report.