By Cesar Pinto
Personal injury attorneys report on a five-alarm fire early Monday morning at the Thomas W. Buck Hosiery building in East Kensington that killed two firefighters who were working on the scene to bring the blaze under control. The firefighters, identified as Daniel Sweeney and Lt. Robert Neary, were killed by falling debris after the walls and roof a nearby furniture store collapsed onto them.
Neighbors of the Buck building say that they began complaining about the factory months ago and feared that the building would ultimately cause a fire. They say the city and the Department of Licenses & Inspection should have long sealed the factory off because of the fire and burn hazards. However, according to the neighbors, they were told that the City of Philadelphia would not seal the factory because the costs were too high.
City representatives have stated that they sent several citations for code violations to owners of the Buck building and the citations were ignored. Officials also said that they were in the process of taking the owners to court to settle the matter.
The Buck building was purchased by Michael and Yechiel Lichtenstein of York Street Property Development LP in 2009. At that time, they also acquired a zoning permit to transform the building into a mixed-use property with dozens of apartments. However, the factory had remained vacant.
In addition to ignoring citations sent to them, the owners also owes the city for unpaid real estate taxes for the property that burned as well as another in the city. They own a total of 34 properties in Philadelphia.
City officials and the District Attorney’s Office are currently investigating if criminal-negligence charges for the fire can be pursued against the Lichtensteins.
The Philadelphia personal injury attorneys at Messa & Associates are experienced at handling cases involving fires, burns and explosions. Our extremely skilled team of personal injury attorneys and medical experts is dedicated to ensuring you receive proper compensation for your personal injuries. If you have been injured in a fire, burn or explosion, or have endured any other type of personal injury, contact the personal injury attorneys of Messa & Associates for a free consultation. Call toll free at 1-877-MessaLaw, or submit a free online inquiry.