ATF National Response Team deploys to Philadelphia after firefighter dies in building collapse


A deadly building collapse in Philadelphia on Saturday morning prompted a response from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

The National Response Team is heading to Philadelphia to help investigate the fire that caused part of a building to collapse, killing a firefighter and injuring five others.

Lt. Sean Williamson, a 27-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department, died after crews spent hours trying to pull him and five others from the rubble.

Five were rescued from the blaze, including Fire Marshal Sylvester Burton, Lt. Clarence Johnson, Firefighter Dennis Daly and Firefighter Robert Brennan, Jr., and transported to Temple University Hospital. L&I Emergency Services Unit Supervisor Thomas Rybakowski was also trapped and rescued from the rubble. He and Lt. Johnson and Lt. Burton were treated at Temple and released. Brennan and Daly are in critical but stable condition, officials said.

Crews responded early Saturday morning as a restaurant at 300 West Indiana Avenue caught fire. After the fire was brought under control, the building suffered a “catastrophic collapse”, according to the ATF.

The Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office reportedly requested assistance from the ATF National Response Team following the tragic events.

“NRT provides an immediate and sustained nationwide response capability, typically deploying within 24 hours of notification, with state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained ATF personnel specializing in fire origination and cause determination. “, said the ATF.


The response team said it would provide support to Philadelphia emergency crews throughout the investigation.

“Every time a firefighter loses his life in the line of duty, it’s a tragic loss for the community,” said Matthew Varisco, special agent in charge of the ATF field division in Philadelphia. “We are heartbroken for the families of these firefighters and are committed to working alongside our partners with the Philadelphia Fire Department and the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office to determine the origin and cause of this fire that resulted in the death of one firefighter and injury to another.”


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