Old City Building ‘Imminently Dangerous' After Massive Fire

The owner of the building has been ordered remove an outdoor fire escape in hopes of relieving some structural pressure and prevent crumbling.

A historic building in Philadelphia's Old City neighborhood gutted by a weekend fire will be demolished, the city told NBC10. 

The structure, located at 239 Chestnut St., was declared “imminently dangerous” by the Department of Licenses and Inspection after a four-alarm inferno tore through the multi-use structure early Sunday morning.

The owner of that building has been ordered to remove an exterior fire escape in hopes of relieving some structural pressure and preventing crumbling. It will eventually be torn down, however.

City officials are also paying close attention to a neighboring building, located at 237 Chestnut St. It is currently considered unsafe yet ultimately salvageable. On Sunday, firefighters poured untold gallons of water through the upper floor windows as they battled the blaze.

The demolition of 239 Chestnut St. will also be difficult, the city said. The building can only be accessed through the front and the block will remain closed to pedestrians for at least one week.

Sunday's fire broke out around 3 a.m., drawing about 400 firefighters, Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said. Two firefighters suffered minor injuries but were later released from the hospital.

"We grabbed our wallet, keys, my glasses, our shoes, our dog and literally ran downstairs," Jenna Federico said. "We felt all the smoke around us going down the stairs."

The fire likely broke out in the upper floors of 239 Chestnut St., which housed residents on the top floors and a pizza shop on the street level.

Around 160 people were evacuated. Nine cats and four birds died in the fire, the Red Paw Relief Team said. Several more pets were rescued but are currently displaced.

This story is developing. Please check back for updates.

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