A South Philadelphia family is lucky to be alive after the side wall of their two-story row home collapsed Friday morning. It happened around 8 a.m. on the 2300 block of Ellsworth Street.
The homeowner, George Flamer, tells NBC10 he was returning home after walking his wife to the bus stop. As he approached his house, he says he heard it groan and then watched as the wall came crashing down.
"I heard the creaking and then it got louder," said Flamer. "Then the whole side fell."
Flamer says he knew his home of 41 years had problems. Ever since the row home next to his was torn down in the 90's, Flamer says the integrity of the outer wall had gotten worse. Flamer had an insurance adjuster look at the house for repairs last week. Unfortunately those repairs didn't happen soon enough.
"I heard stuff falling," said Flamer. "The foundation was getting worse."
A spokesperson for Licenses and Inspection told NBC10 the wall that collapsed was structurally deficient. They told Flamer and his family their home would have to be torn down.
"They're going to bill me for tearing down my own home," said Olivia Flamer, George's wife. "Does that seem fair? No! I've been on the phone with L & I. It's getting on my nerves."
"The city always bills for their work," said Bart Clark of Licenses and Inspection. "But she has insurance."
Crews closed the 2300 block of Ellsworth. Before demolition, George was allowed back inside the home to get his dog and take a minute to reflect on his situation.
"It could have happened last night," said Flamer. "Both of us could have been inside."
Flamer’s 19-year-old Grandson and his friend were inside when the building collapsed but were not hurt. Flamer says he and his wife have a place to stay.
The 2300 block of Ellsworth Street is currently closed as officials continue to investigate the cause of the collapse.