Kensington fire investigation being submitted to grand jury (UPDATE)

b67a8035d5c0af1c13566fe5690bfadc
PAIGE OZAROSKI/METRO

After pressure from city officials in the wake of a Kensington warehouse blaze that killed two firefighters, the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office has impaneled a grand jury to determine whether the property owners should face criminal charges.

The five-alarm blaze happened at the Thomas W. Buck Hosiery building on April 9. Lt. Robert Neary and firefighter Daniel Sweeney were both killed while inspecting an adjacent building when a wall collapsed. Two other firefighters were also injured.

In the aftermath of the fire, the city released documents showing three citations from Licenses and Inspections to the property owners, Yeichiel and Michael Lichtenstein, of Brooklyn, N.Y.-based YML Realty Holdings, for failure to secure the building.

Mayor Michael Nutter yesterday applauded District Attorney Seth Williams’ decision to turn the investigation over to a grand jury.

“It is absolutely the most appropriate next step in this issue. We need to get to the bottom of what really happened out there and we’ll see where things go from there,” Nutter said.

He added that the city is compiling a list of all large vacant properties and owners of multiple properties that could pose potential hazards. He also said all city departments have been told to cooperate fully with the grand jury investigation, which will likely take weeks.

Local 22 Firefighters Union President Bill Gault said he hopes the possibility of criminal charges will send a message to absentee landlords.

“We lost two of our own and will never get them back. We can, however, send a zero-tolerance message to these absentee landlords that we are coming after you and holding you criminally responsible for your willful negligence in the hopes that a tragedy of this magnitude never happens again,” Gault said.

An attorney representing the property owners could not be immediately reached for comment. The cause of the fire has not yet been released.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Local

New York-based Century 21 store coming to The…

The former Strawbridge & Clothier building will once again host a department store. City officials on Thursday announced New York-based Century 21 Department Stores will…

National

Electric Zoo tickets on sale Tuesday as festival…

Electric Zoo tickets go on sale Tuesday. The festival announced plans to amp up security after two attendees died last year from apparent drug overdoses.

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

Movies

Tribeca: Nikki Reed on going funny for a…

"Intramural" star Nikki Reed talks about being the straight person in a broad comedy, spending time in Austin and how "Thirteen" was a "miracle."

Movies

Interview: 'The Quiet Ones' star Sam Claflin on…

"Hunger Games" co-star Sam Claflin talks about his new horror film "The Quiet Ones," plus how technology connects him with fans.

MLB

The return of Cole Hamels brings optimism

Cole Hamels’ quality start Wednesday was a nice change of pace from his recent season debuts.

MLB

Tony Gwynn Jr. a nice surprise for Phillies

Tony Gwynn Jr. has been a plus in every way for the Phillies.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

MLB

5 infamous pitcher ejections for cheating

Never fear Yankees fans, Michael Pineda is far from the first MLB pitcher to be thrown out of a game for cheating.

Food

Hai Street Kitchen opening in Rittenhouse May 22

Japanese cuisine will get a Chipotle-style twist at Hai Street Kitchen & Co., a new casual, quick-food restaurant opening near Rittenhouse Square on May 22.…

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.