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


A deadly building collapse in Philadelphia on Saturday morning has 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 one firefighter and inuring five other people. 

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

Five were rescued from the fire, including Fire Marshal Sylvester Burton, Lieutenant Clarence Johnson, Firefighter Dennis Daly and Firefighter Robert Brennan, Jr., and transported to Temple University Hospital. Supervisor with Emergency Services Unit at L&I 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 say.

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

The Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office reportedly requested assistance from the ATF’s 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 qualified ATF personnel specializing in fire origin and cause determination,” the ATF said.


The response team says they will provide support to Philadelphia emergency crews throughout the investigation.

“Anytime a firefighter loses his/her life in the line of duty, it is a tragic loss to the community,” said Matthew Varisco, Special Agent in charge of ATF’s Philadelphia Field Division. “We are heartbroken for the families of these firemen and vow to work alongside our partners with the Philadelphia Fire Department and the Philadelphia Fire Marshal’s Office to determine the origin and cause of this fire which resulted in the death of one firefighter and injuring of another.”