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2 Philadelphia firefighters die in massive warehouse blaze

Two Philadelphia firefighters who were battling a five-alarm blaze at an abandoned warehouse Monday died when an adjacent store they were inspecting collapsed, trapping and burying the men, authorities said.

The firefighters were identified as Robert Neary, a 38-year veteran with department, and Daniel Sweeney, 25. Both were assigned to Ladder 10, NBC10Philadelphia reported.

Two other firefighters, Francis Cheney and Pat Nally, were injured and taken to a hospital for treatment. Their injuries were not life-threatening, according to NBC10Philadelphia.com.

Read NBC10Philadelphia.com's complete coverage of the fatal fire

The fire was reported about 3:30 a.m. at an abandoned factory in the city’s Kensington section. The collapse happened before 6 a.m., about half an hour after firefighters had gained control of the massive blaze, according to the Associated Press.


Neary and Sweeney were killed while inspecting an extension of the fire at an adjacent furniture store. The building’s rear wall collapsed, burying the firefighters in debris, Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers told NBC10Phildelphia.com.

"There were bricks, heavy timber, all kinds of other debris were on top of them,” Deputy Fire Commissioner Ernest F. Hargett Jr. told NBC10Philadelphia.com. “The roof actually came in as well … a lot of it had to be moved by hand and it's a hard and tedious job.”

Neighbors told NBC10Philadelphia.com that the warehouse had been abandoned for decades, and had been once used to manufacture ladies' hosiery.

Messages of support and condolences from across the nation poured onto the fire station's Facebook page on Monday.

“Bobby Neary was an Awesome Guy! I'm heartbroken,” Pat Wixted Straubb wrote on the Facebook page, adding “My heart also goes out to the family of Dan Sweeney! May they Rest in Peace! Bobby I know You will continue to always watch over Your Men!!”

Brian Clyne posted: “Rip Brothers. Winnipeg Canada.”

Another wrote: “We lost two heroes today.”

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