West Philly “Ice Palace” Starts to Melt, Residents Fear Collapse

Sunshine and warmer temperatures caused the West Philadelphia "ice palace" to melt partially Sunday. Yet with that melting comes new concerns of a collapse.

The Locust Medical Center building at 52nd and Locust streets became encased in ice last Monday following an early morning fire. Water being used to fight the flames 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." 

The Fire marshal began investigating the property and the owner is currently looking for a demolition company to tear it down.

On Sunday, temperatures in the mid 40's caused chunks of ice to fall from the building. Some neighbors worry the ice is the only thing holding up the building however. They also don't feel a fenced-in collapse zone established outside the property is enough to protect them if there's a collapse.

"I'm worried that even if this falls, it's going to go all the way to the other side of the street," said Donald Parker, who lives near the building. "They should've still had this block here blocked off."

With temperatures dropping again overnight into Monday, the "ice palace" will likely re-freeze after Sunday's brief warmup. Whether the building finally collapses or if its demolished, residents are hoping the property will be replaced.

"I think it should be torn down and rebuilt for the people here, the low income people, so they could have a place to go for medical treatment," said Danielle King.

NBC10 tried to contact the realty owners listed on the building but we have not yet heard back from them.

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