2 firefighters die in massive warehouse fire in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood

Firefighters battle a fire in a warehouse on York Street near Kensington Avenue, early April 9, 2012, in Philadelphia.
AP Photo/Joseph Kaczmarek

(AP) PHILADELPHIA - A massive fire at an abandoned warehouse claimed the lives of two Philadelphia firefighters after a wall collapsed inside an adjacent building where the two men were trying to halt the fire's progress, officials said Monday.

Fire Commissioner Lloyd Ayers said three other firefighters were injured in the collapse, which trapped fire personnel inside and required others to spring to their aid.

"We have two firefighters that have lost their lives," Ayers said outside Temple University Hospital. "We're asking for prayers for the families."

The firefighters, ages 60 and 25, were killed when the rear wall collapsed in a furniture store adjacent to the large brick warehouse where the massive five-alarm fire erupted around 3:15 a.m., Ayers said.

The fire engulfed the large warehouse in the city's Kensington neighborhood early in the morning and raged for about two hours before being brought under control. Flames poured from the windows of the multi-floor structure as fire personnel poured water on it from all sides.

Fire trucks lined the streets near the fire scene for hours after the blaze was brought under control.

Firefighters who initially arrived at the scene encountered heavy flames with four additional alarms sounded soon after, Deputy Commissioner Ernest Hargett Jr. said.

Hot embers whipped up by the raging blaze started fires at other nearby structures, including six homes. Fire officials said those smaller fires had been dealt with.

Police began banging on the doors of nearby homes shortly after the fire was reported. No injuries were reported among the displaced.

Twenty-nine minutes after the fire was brought under control an alarm went out for entrapped firefighters.

Hargett said five firefighters were inside the furniture store when it collapsed. It took a couple of hours to get all of them out, he said.

Two of those firefighters were killed, the other three injured with one admitted to a hospital. The extent of that firefighter's injuries were not immediately clear.

"They were all trapped at some point and firefighters effected a rescue to get them out," Hargett said.

Ayers said the department last lost a firefighter in 2006. The last time it lost multiple firefighters on a single call was 2004.