Building owner accused of setting fire that led to Philadelphia firefighter’s death

Firefighters at the scene of a building collapse at N 3rd St and W Indiana Ave. in the city's Fairhill section where a 27 year veteran firefighter died. (Jonathan Wilson for Billy Penn)

Firefighters at the scene of a building collapse at N 3rd St and W Indiana Ave. in the city's Fairhill section where a 27 year veteran firefighter died. (Jonathan Wilson for Billy Penn)

This story originally appeared on 6abc.

A building owner has been charged with allegedly setting a fire that led to the death of a Philadelphia firefighter.

Al-Ashraf Khalil is charged with maliciously damaging a building by means of fire and aiding and abetting.

Investigators say Khalil owned the three-story commercial building that went up in flames and collapsed earlier this month.

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Khalil was captured in surveillance images going in and out of the building minutes before it caught fire, according to a criminal complaint, and smoke was seen coming from the location a short time later.

Investigators say Khalil fled the country after he was questioned by investigators.

Images released by court documents include one allegedly showing Khalil at the scene.

The ATF tells Action News Khalil was taken into custody in Jordan and was brought back to the United States. He is currently being held in New York.

Investigators are also looking for a second suspect seen on video.

The blaze broke out around 2 a.m. on Saturday, June 18 at a three-story restaurant and residential building on West Indiana Avenue. The fire had been put out, but then the building collapsed at 3:24 a.m.

Lieutenant Sean Williamson, 51, was killed in the fire. He was a 27-year veteran of the Philadelphia Fire Department.

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Williamson was most recently assigned to Ladder 18 in Hunting Park and leaves behind his mother and son. He was laid to rest Monday.

During his funeral he was remembered as a dedicated firefighter who tirelessly served the city.

“Firefighters, and all first responders, lay down their lives for strangers. And that’s what Lt. Sean Williamson did,” said the Rev. James Casey. “He performed the greatest act of love.”

Four other firefighters and an inspector with the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections were also trapped at the time of the collapse. One firefighter jumped from the second story of the rubble, officials said.

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