Home Fire News Arson suspect arrested in Philly fire and building collapse that killed firefighter

Arson suspect arrested in Philly fire and building collapse that killed firefighter

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Investigators examine the remains of the collapsed building along the 300 block of West Indiana Avenue. (Yong Kim/The Philadelphia Inquirer/TNS)

Max Marin

The Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — Authorities have arrested a person suspected of arson in connection with a fire and building collapse that killed a 27-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department, officials announced Tuesday.

The charges come a day after hundreds gathered at a funeral in South Philadelphia to mourn the death of Lt. Sean Williamson, 51, who died after a fire-damaged pizza shop collapsed on firefighters in the early hours of June 18.

The name of the suspect was not immediately available. Charges are expected to come down in Philadelphia’s federal court following a 10-day investigation between local and federal law enforcement agencies.

Williamson was one of several firefighters who responded to what officials described as a routine blaze at a pizza shop in the Fairhill neighborhood just before 2 a.m. Eight people were evacuated from the three-story corner property, and within an hour, firefighters had the blaze under control.

Williamson was still on scene with four other firefighters and a city building inspector when the building came crashing down. The others managed to escape with injuries. Williamson’s body was located in the rubble after an hourslong search, leaving the fire department heartbroken and the neighborhood shaken.

The building at Third Street and Indiana Avenue was not licensed to operate its downstairs restaurant and upstairs apartments. The building also appeared to have undergone significant construction work without any recent permits.

Officials from the Philadelphia Police Department, Philadelphia Fire Department, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will provide more details at a 4:30 p.m. news conference.

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