By Walt Hunter
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Suddenly, three floors and the roof of the abandoned factory collapsed with a roar at mid-morning, crushing two vehicles in a rear lot, but luckily not falling onto any nearby streets or homes.
“The bricks all went tumbling down, smoke went up, it was real smoky,” said neighbor Jessica Cupps. “It smelled like a dusty smell.”
Jessica Cupps says a tree growing out of a third floor window is a clear indication of just how dilapidated and dangerous the building had become.
“The third floor actually collapsed into the second about a year ago, I believe,” Cupps said. “As you can see, there’s a tree in the middle of the building.”
Court records show the building had been sold at Sherriff’s Sale in March of 2012. It has $33,252 in unpaid taxes and it was declared unsafe by the city’s licenses and inspections department July 25th.
But as the city was in the process of taking the owner to equity court, the building crashed down.
Forced to evacuate with seven other neighbors, Cecily Neives was grateful that she was told she could return at dinner time.
Heavy equipment is now demolishing what’s left of the building and lifting up rubble, enabling firefighters in a bucket truck to search to make sure no one had been trapped in the collapse.
The cleanup and investigation may possibly continue for days.
City officials say despite the condition of the building, they never received a single 3-1-1 call from neighbors complaining about the building. They say if you’ve got a dangerous building in your neighborhood, call the city immediately.