Crumbling Building Collapses, Crushing Cars

Neighbors tell NBC10 the building had been deteriorating for years.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A vacant building in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia went crashing down Wednesday morning. NBC10's Dawn Timmeney spoke to the Department of Licenses and Inspection and they say the property was under investigation for multiple code violations.

    A vacant building that neighbors describe as "dangerous" collapsed in the Port Richmond section of the city Wednesday morning -- all three stories.

    "It sounded like an earthquake," neighbor Luis Rodriquez told NBC10's Dawn Timmeney.

    The dilapidated building on East Madison Street collapsed around 11 a.m. slamming two cars with bricks and debris. People in several nearby homes were evacuated.

    "It was scary. I knew it was gonna fall sooner or later. That building has been coming down brick by brick for a while now," said neighborhood resident Lisa Velez who lives around the corner. 

    "It was dangerous to walk on that side. Very dangerous so I'm glad it took this to finally bring it down."

    Property owners owed more than $30K in back taxes according to the record we pulled from the City of Philadelphia's database. Those tax records list the property owner as Refurbish It, Inc.

    Although neighbors complained openly to us today about the condition of the building, when we called Licenses and Inspection they told us that in the past ten years, not one person complained about the the building. They also told us that they cited the property owners back in April, when the huge, vacant warehouse fire in Kensington prompted L&I to inspect other properties in the area, including this one. At that time, they cited the owners for fire code violations, unsafe structure, maintenance issues and for not being licensed as a vacant structure. L&I's spokeswoman tells NBC10 they cited the property owners again 30 days later when the owners didn't take any action. Today, when the building crumbled, L&I was going through the process of getting a court order that would have allowed the city to clean up the property and bill the owner.

    No one was hurt in the collapse. Evacuees were allowed to return to their homes three and a half hours after the collapse. An inspection by Licenses and Inspection deemed the homes safe.