As The Smoke Clears In Kensington, The City Reflects


Photo: Peter Woodall

Early yesterday morning, East Kensington’s Thomas Buck Hosiery was engulfed in flames. Eventually growing to a five alarm fire, the resulting structural collapse killed two firefighters: Daniel Sweeney, 25; and Lt. Robert Neary, 60. The news reports offer a glimpse of how these issues—so familiar and disheartening to the contributors and readers here at the Daily—are perceived by the city’s media as a whole. The introductory blurb from the on-site report filed by Fox29’s Steve Keeley last night reveals something of that surprise: “We never find out about the history of these old factories until they catch fire it seems and all of them eventually do it seems.” For Peter Woodall’s News piece from yesterday, covering the tragedy, click HERE.

  • FOX29’s report from last night features the Daily’s own Peter Woodall, as well the father of fallen firefighter Daniel Sweeney. “He was great firefighter,” said Sweeney. “He looked out for his guys.”
  • The fire of course has roused a great deal of discussion on Philadelphia Speaks. For the thread, “MASSIVE Abandoplex Fire – Thomas Buck Hosiery,” click HERE.

Later today, Nathaniel Popkin will lament the missed opportunities of the building and the area in a Soapbox, and Ryan Briggs will offer a post-mortem to his original piece from last Friday.

About the author

Stephen Currall recently received his BA in history from Arcadia University. Before beginning doctoral studies, he is pursuing his interest in local history, specifically just how Philadelphians engage their vibrant past. Besides skimming through 18th century letters, Steve is also interested in music and travel.

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  1. Steve Keeley needs to read Hidden City Philadelphia more.

  2. Wow, the Daily News article says they owe $278,610 for this building at 7th & Market –

    These people should be sued for every pathetic penny they’re worth. The city needs to get real about going after these tax delinquents.

  3. It amazes me how this city constantly cries about how “broke” it is. They [Philadelphia] lack the funds for much needed projects and repairs, but it’s aggressiveness to recover dead-beat tax payers is non-existent. I read the article, “Passing the Buck” ( which was published on March 30th. On April 9th this building goes up in flames, interesting. I’m sure the people who live in that neighborhood had a feeling this would happen. Seems to happen often when community groups and the city start pushing to get results. The city should have taken over that building long ago. If the average resident owed that kind of money in taxes and fines it would have been a swift an easy process through the courts. Now, with two fire fighters dead, a building in ruins, and neighboring homes damaged, the city marches forward with a criminal investigation into the cause of the fire. A city that needs money, does nothing to collect, now awakens to administer legal action at the cost of two dead fire fighters. The city is just as guilty as the owners of that building.

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