YORK, Pa. (AP) — Federal investigators searched for clues Friday, and a city mourned the loss of two firefighters who were buried in the rubble of a collapsed former piano factory.
York firefighters Ivan Flanscha and Zachary Anthony died at a hospital after being pulled from the wreckage of the former Weaver Organ and Piano factory, the first city firefighters to be killed in the line of duty in nearly 50 years.
“This is the worst day in my career, this is the worst day for the York City Fire Department,” said Fire Chief David Michaels. “These were the guys you wanted in the firetruck.”
Two other firefighters injured in the Thursday collapse, Assistant Chief Greg Altland and firefighter Erik Swanson, remained in the hospital Friday.
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The federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives took over the investigation as crews worked to preserve the scene and assess the danger by mapping out a potential “collapse zone.”
Residents who live nearby were told they might not be able to go back to their homes for up to a week, and the area was closed to traffic.
The former factory was being converted into residential units when it caught fire. The firefighters were looking for hot spots and searching for the cause of the blaze when a large section of the factory building’s wall collapsed on them, York officials said.
The collapse trapped all four of the firefighters.
Flanscha was named the York City Firefighter of the Year in 2004, and was a 20-year veteran of the department. Anthony had been with the department since 2010.
The two firefighters are the 12th and 13th city firefighters killed in the line of duty in the department’s history.
“We are totally overwhelmed,” Michaels said.
The York Fire Department and firefighters union started a GoFundMe campaign to help the families of the victims and the injured firefighters. Chad Taylor, of the York-based band Live, offered to help pay the expenses of the displaced families, who also were being helped by a church.
York is about 100 miles (about 160 kilometers) west of Philadelphia.