Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter got a first-hand look at the aftermath of a massive inferno in Kensington that claimed the lives of 60-year-old Lieutenant Robert Neary, and 25-year-old firefighter, Daniel Sweeney. Both men were members of Ladder 10.
“I certainly wish this hadn't happened and I want to know what factors led to this,” Mayor Nutter said.
“They were doing their job to make sure that others were safe and it's a terrible feeling.”
The early morning fire at the abandoned Thomas Buck Hosiery Factory at York and Jasper in Kensington quickly grew to a five-alarm blaze. Crews had it under control within a couple hours but according to investigators, hot embers spread to several homes and a furniture store, it was inside that store where the tragedy unfolded.
Five firefighters were trapped in the rubble. One escaped on his own, two were rescued 30 minutes later but it took two hours for crews to locate Lt. Neary and firefighter Sweeney. Lt. Neary. Sweeney and the other firefighters were taken to Temple Hospital where a heartbreaking scene unfolded as family members and co-workers consoled one another.
It's not yet known what caused the fire, but residents say they had complained numerous times to the City about the condition of the building. According to the Department of Licenses and Inspections, the owners York Street Property Development based in New York City, were cited four times since November and also owed thousands in unpaid taxes.
“We will explore and refer to the District Attorney any potential Criminal negligence,” said Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison.
As the investigation continues, Mayor Nutter says right now the focus needs to be on the families of Lt. Neary and Firefighter Sweeney.
“All I can ask Philadelphians to do is to keep these families in their prayers.”
Fan, follow and download: Get the latest from NBCPhiladelphia.com anytime, anywhere. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and NBC Philadelphia. Sign up for our sports newsletter. And, get breaking news delivered right to your mobile phone -- just text PHIBREAKING to 639710 to sign up. (Message and data rates may apply.)