Gov. Tom Corbett on Wednesday ordered flags to be flown at half-staff to honor two city firefighters killed battling a warehouse blaze, as memorial services were being planned and investigators continued to search for a cause.
Sixty-year-old Lt. Robert Neary and 25-year-old firefighter Daniel Sweeney were killed Monday in a building collapse at a nearby furniture store where the fire had spread. Two other firefighters were injured.
Corbett ordered all Pennsylvania flags in the Capitol Complex and at commonwealth facilities in Philadelphia to fly at half-staff today through Saturday.
Memorial services and viewings are also scheduled this weekend for both firefighters.
There will be a viewing and memorial Friday for Neary, a 37-year veteran who served in the Army reserves from 1972 to 1982 and worked as a police officer before joining the fire department. He is survived by his wife, two grown sons and a grown daughter. There will be another viewing Saturday evening. Burial will be private.
A viewing for Sweeney will be held at St. Cecilia’s Church in northeast Philadelphia on Friday. Another viewing, a memorial service and burial will follow Saturday. Sweeney, who was single, was the son of recently retired fire Capt. David Sweeney.
Investigators are sifting through the rubble at the scene and fire officials said it could take a long time to determine the cause, especially considering the size of the six-story building.
Meanwhile, the city is conducting reviews of about 30 other buildings owned by developers that own the warehouse and also conducting a survey of scores of other large buildings like the warehouse where the fire started.
Mayor Michael Nutter said Tuesday that there at least appears to be some level of neglect on the part of the owners of the warehouse. But District Attorney Seth Williams said more investigating must be done before a decision can be made on whether someone could be criminally responsible.
The property’s corporate owner, York Street Property Development, had been cited three times since November, and a fourth citation was issued after a March 29 inspection following a community meeting, according to city officials.
A spokesman for lawyers representing the owners has declined to comment beyond a statement issued Monday in which they called the fire “an unspeakable tragedy” and sent prayers and condolences to the firefighters. In that statement, they also said they were continuing to cooperate with law enforcement and government agencies in the investigation.
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