Archbishop From Philadelphia Fire Department Chaplain Group Helps Firefighters Mourn Loss Of Lt. Sean Williamson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Philadelphia firefighters are grieving the loss of one their own. Lieutenant Sean Williamson of Ladder 18 was killed early Saturday morning in the line of duty.

Williamson was responding to a fire at a pizzeria on the 300 block of West Indiana in Fairhill. Then just over an hour later, the building collapsed.

Investigators were back at that scene Sunday morning. They included officials with the fire marshal, ATF and License and Inspections.

ATF’s National Response Team has been deployed to Philadelphia to assist in the investigation of what caused the initial fire. 

It comes as colleagues of Lt. Sean Williamson try to come to terms with the loss of one of their own. 

“How could God allow that to happen?” Archbishop Mary Floyd Palmer, of the Philadelphia Fire Department’s Chaplain group, said. 

Black bunting is dressed outside Ladder 18 in Hunting Park one day after Lt. Williamson was killed in the line of duty. Inside, Archbishop Palmer spoke to colleagues of the 27-year-veteran. 

“I wanted them to know that their service of taking care of others selflessly even to the point of loss of life is something that is one of God’s greatest gifts,” Archbishop Palmer said. 

Philadelphia firefighters had already put out an overnight fire at a pizzeria on West Indiana Avenue and crews were doing inspections and checking for hotspots when the building suddenly buckled, trapping Williamson along with five others. 

“About an hour the whole building collapsed and I was like, ‘What?’” a neighbor said.  

Williamson was pulled from the rubble and pronounced dead several hours later. Deputy Fire Commissioner Craig Murphy called the collapse a catastrophic accident. 

“It really hurt our department and I know this member well and it hurt the fire services as a whole,” Murphy said.

Two firefighters remain hospitalized in critical but stable condition.

“It’s going to be a rough few weeks,” Murphy said 

For now, those left to grieve, find comfort knowing this sacrifice will not soon be forgotten.

“Even in the worst of circumstance there will be something great that comes from this,” Archbishop Palmer said. “What do I mean? There could be a young person who heard about what they did and heard his story and says, ‘Because he was willing, I want to be like him.’”

Williamson is survived by his mother and one son. 

His funeral arrangements have not yet been announced.