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Firefighters gather in the alley after a fire escape landing collapsed around midnight Saturday.

4th-floor fire escape collapse kills 1 in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA – A fourth-floor fire escape collapsed during a birthday party at a Philadelphia apartment, killing a young man and injuring two women, police said Sunday.

The 22-year-old man, who suffered severe head and neck injuries in the fall late Saturday, was pronounced dead at a hospital early Sunday.

The man and two women had been attending a party in the tony Rittenhouse Square neighborhood and had stepped out onto the balcony area to smoke cigarettes when the collapse occurred, authorities said.

The two women are in their 20s and suffered broken bones in their backs. They were listed in stable condition at two city hospitals.

Officials from the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections are investigating.

The crash occurred at the historic John C. Bell building, which was converted into apartments decades ago.

Built in 1906, the John C. Bell House is on the National Register of Historic Places and is named for a former Pennsylvania attorney general who lived there.

A neighbor who lives in the building next door said many young people live in the building. She said she heard what sounded like "this incredible explosion" and then screams. She called 911.

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