A row house collapse Monday severely damaged neighboring houses and hurt eight people, including a baby and a critically injured contractor.
The collapse happened shortly after 11 a.m. Monday at an unoccupied home being remodeled in the middle of a south Philadelphia street lined with connected two-story brick homes. The contractor was working in the basement of the destroyed home, police said. Bricks showered onto the small street and nearly covered a car parked out front. The houses on either side of the destroyed home were standing but badly damaged, with large sections of their masonry walls gone.
Gas and electrical utility crews were on the scene trying to determine what caused the collapse, while rescue crews combed through the rubble for victims. They said early Monday afternoon that the search was complete and no one was unaccounted for. The area was evacuated and residents taken to a nearby school, which was being used as a temporary shelter. Gas service was turned off on the block.
“I was in the shower and I thought my house was about to fall down,” said Christie Scibblo, a 26-year-old mother of four who lives four houses down from the collapsed home. “I ran outside and I saw a firefighter rescuing an infant.”
Scibblo said she also saw firefighters hosing down a man who had been burned.
Daniel Killian, 19, who lives across the narrow street from the houses that collapsed, said he could smell gas shortly before the explosion.
“It smelled like straight gas, so strong,” he said. “I felt like I was going to throw up.”
Last month, a collapse at a downtown Philadelphia demolition site killed six people and injured 12 when a large wall fell on an adjacent thrift store. A machinery operator is charged with involuntary manslaughter and a grand jury is weighing whether anyone else should be charged.