Arrest Made in Fire That Killed Two Philly Firefighters

An arrest has resulted from a state grand-jury probe into an April warehouse fire and building collapse in Kensington that killed two Philadelphia firefighters.

Richard Knellinger has been arrested and charged with perjury and false reporting, the District Attorney's Office announced Thursday.

According to a search warrant recently viewed by the Daily News, Knellinger was the owner of Giamari Furniture & Bedding.

Lt. Robert Neary, 60, and firefighter Daniel Sweeney, 25, of Ladder 10, died in the furniture store April 9 when a wall of the adjacent burning warehouse collapsed on the store, trapping them.

According to the warrant, Knellinger contacted a Giamari delivery driver, Jeremiah Fishburn -- who uses the nickname "Jay" -- and warned him that investigators were looking for him.

Knellinger, however, testified under oath that he didn't know anyone named Jay, according to the warrant, which was filed by investigators who wanted to gain access to Fishburn's phone records.

The five-alarm blaze destroyed the abandoned Thomas W. Buck Hosiery Building at 1817 E. York St.

In addition to the state grand jury, the incident is being investigated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

The owner of the warehouse is also under criminal investigation, city officials have said.

Knellinger was arrested Thursday morning by a task force whose members are from the city fire and police departments and from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said Steven Bartholomew, an ATF spokesman.

As of 5:30 p.m. Thursday, it was not clear if Knellinger was still in custody or out on bail.

Copyright 2012 - Philadelphia Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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