Firefighter, resident killed in Philadelphia row home fire

Bruce Shipkowski
The Associated Press

A veteran firefighter was fatally injured Saturday when a burning row home collapsed in Philadelphia and he became pinned under the debris, authorities said. A person who lived in the home was also killed.

Lt. Matthew LeTourneau, 42, was pulled from the home by fellow firefighters and taken to Temple University hospital. The 11-year-veteran was pronounced dead there a short time later.

“Our hearts are breaking, and we are without words,” city Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said at a news conference Saturday afternoon. He said it took about 30 minutes for firefighters to free LeTourneau from the debris caused by the interior structure collapse.

The fast-moving fire was reported around 8:50 a.m., and dozens of firefighters battled the blaze for nearly two hours before it was brought under control. Two other firefighters were also injured and were being treated at a hospital. Their injuries were not considered life-threatening and they were expected to be released later Saturday.

The cause of the blaze remains under investigation.

Authorities say a person found inside the home died in the fire, while another person from a neighboring home was taken to the hospital and was listed in critical condition. Their names and further details about their injuries were not disclosed.

LeTourneau joined the fire department in 2007 and was promoted to lieutenant in 2015. He had received a unit citation in 2010 and a letter of commendation for his service during the World Meeting of Families in 2015.

Thiel said LeTourneau would receive a fire department funeral with full honors, but said it had not yet been scheduled.

Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney said the city will “be there for (LeTourneau’s) family forever.”

The last Philadelphia firefighter killed in action was Lt. Joyce Craig, who was fatally injured in December 2014 while battling a wind-whipped house fire.