Fire Captain Killed, 2nd Hurt in Fabric Building Fire

By Ron Todt and David Chang
|  Tuesday, Apr 9, 2013  |  Updated 11:01 AM EDT
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The Philadelphia Fire Department, local community and the city of Philadelphia are honoring Captain Michael Goodwin, the firefighter who died in last night's building blaze.

NBC10.com - Katy Zachry

The Philadelphia Fire Department, local community and the city of Philadelphia are honoring Captain Michael Goodwin, the firefighter who died in last night's building blaze.

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Funeral arrangements have been made for a veteran fire captain who died when a roof collapsed beneath him as he battled a blaze.

Capt. Michael Goodwin, 53, plunged onto the second-floor roof of the three-story building in the Fabric Row section during Saturday night's blaze. He was pronounced dead at the scene. He was the third city firefighter killed in the line of duty in the past year.

Mayor Michael Nutter ordered flags flown at half-staff on Sunday. Nutter also called for prayers for his family and colleagues.

"We must never forget the grave risks that these heroic public servants take every day at a moment's notice on behalf of us all,'' Mayor Michael Nutter said in a statement Sunday.

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"Right now we're asking for prayers from all of the city," said Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers.

A tribute celebrating Goodwin's life will be held on Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. at John F. Givnish Funeral Home on 10975 Academy Road. Goodwin's memorial service will take place Thursday at noon at St. Michael's Lutheran Church on 2139 E. Cumberland Street in Kensington. He will then be buried at the Hillside Cemetery in Roslyn, Pa.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Goodwin's memory should be sent to the Firefighters Widow Fund, Local 22, 415 N. 5th Street Philadelphia, Pa. 19123. You can also share your memories of Captain Goodwin by visiting the Life Celebration website.

Fellow firefighters saluted Goodwin Saturday night as his body was carried from the ruins of the three-story building at 4th and Fitzwater streets.

"It was a very dangerous firefighting situation at that time," Ayers said.

Goodwin was on the roof of the building when it collapsed, trapping him inside. Another firefighter, Andrew Godlewski, tried to rescue him before a second-floor roof and two walls also collapsed.

At an emotional news conference late Saturday after the fire was extinguished, Ayers told reporters that Goodwin was his friend and "a ladder man. A firefighter's firefighter."

"He's the kind of guy who looked out for his folks — a big guy," Ayers said.

Goodwin was a 29-year veteran of the department.

Godlewski, 28, was burned on his hands while trying to rescue Goodwin. He was discharged shortly before noon Sunday.

The loss comes as the Fire Department prepares to mark a year since an April 9 blaze at a warehouse that killed Capt. Robert Neary, 59, and Daniel Sweeney, 25. They died when a wall in an adjacent building collapsed, burying them in a mound of bricks and debris.

"The month of April has been especially cruel to us," said Gault. "Tuesday marks one-year since the tragic deaths of Lt. Robert Neary and Daniel Sweeney and now, nearly a year to the day, we've lost Mike.  We will honor all three of them Tuesday at City Hall as we prepare for Captain Goodwin's funeral services. We ask all citizens to remember the ultimate sacrifice these brave men have made and keep their families in your prayers."

"We have a department that is wounded," Ayers said. "We have scars that are fresh, and indeed they have now been reopened."

Saturday's fire appeared to have started in the fabric store downstairs before spreading to upstairs apartments and a neighboring boutique, the store's owner said. The proprietors of both stores told The Philadelphia Inquirer that everyone in both buildings at the time of the fire managed to escape.

The fire's cause wasn't immediately known, but Bruce Blumenthal, the owner of Jack B. Fabrics, said he believes it started in a wall and may have been electrical in nature.

Blumenthal said he smelled smoke coming from the basement around 5 p.m. and found a box of collars and cuffs on fire. He tried to put the flames out with an extinguisher, to no avail.

Goodwin is survived by a wife and two grown children, Ayers said. Mayor Michael Nutter has ordered flags to be flown at half-staff and bunting has gone up at Ladder 27, which runs out of the fire station on Snyder Avenue in South Philly.

 


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