Frozen West Philly Building in Danger of Collapse

Officials are monitoring a frozen building in West Philadelphia in danger of collapsing.

The Locust Medical Center building at 52nd and Locust streets became encased in ice Monday morning following an early morning fire.

The fire broke out around 4:45 a.m. Monday. Fire crews struck a second alarm shortly after arriving on scene. The building houses doctor's offices and other medical facilities.

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The fire was placed under control just before 6:30 a.m. Monday. No one was hurt, but a combination of gusty winds and extreme cold made knocking down the blaze difficult.

Water being used to fight the fire froze to about an inch thick on sidewalks, cars and trees nearby. On the building, which was constantly doused with water, an even thicker coating of ice blanketed walls and power lines. Adjacent properties, including a restaurant, were also encased in ice.

After the property froze over, officials with the city's department Licenses and Inspections classified the building as "imminently dangerous."

"The ice that's put on this property adds a lot of weight and we establish collapse zones and we just
have to stay out of it's way," said Philadelphia Fire Department Deputy Chief James Bonner. "We have to keep it contained to the building it's in and make sure the building doesn't fall on us." 

An L&I spokesperson told NBC10 the fire marshal is now investigating the property.

"Once the investigation is completed and cleared, the Department will take the appropriate action," he said.

The spokesman also told NBC10 the owner will have the opportunity to demolish the property.

"If the owner cannot take immediate action then the city will demolish it," the spokesman said. "Normally within ten days. However, if the building conditions warrant immediate action prior to the ten days, we will curbside bid the property for demolition."

The building's owner told NBC10 he plans to demolish the house as soon as possible. He also had a fence put up in order to secure the area.

Three contractors are currently bidding on the demolition work, according to L&I.

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