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House Collapse In South Philadelphia Leaves Family Homeless

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By Jenn Bernstein

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The Red Cross is now assisting a family after their home collapsed Friday morning on the 2300 block of Ellsworth Street in South Philadelphia.

George Flamer and his wife Olivia have lived in the house for 41 years. George was having trouble opening the door this morning when his wife needed to leave for work. His wife Olivia headed off to catch the bus, and that’s when George, outside at the time, began to know something was seriously wrong.

“I heard the cracking getting louder, and then the whole wall just collapsed. The first thought in my mind was my grandson,” said George.

Still inside the home was George’s 19 year old grandson, and his grandson’s girlfriend.

“After it collapsed I’d seen my grandson and his friend coming through the rubble,” said George.

Miraculously, no one was hurt, but George and Olivia can’t help but think what would have happened if their other 18 year old grandson, and their 5 year old great grandson were in the home, as they often are.

“He would have been dead, because he would have been watching his cartoons and sleeping,” said George.

The Flamers say new construction on both sides of the home is to blame for this collapse, and that they’ve reported problems to the city multiple times.

“I’ve been calling ever since they started the construction on the house next door,” said Olivia.

Philadelphia Department of License and Inspections (L & I) said the house was completely clean in their system and there were no recorded violations and no official customer calls. L & I did say the wall on one side was in bad condition.

George said an insurance representative did visit the house just two weeks ago.

L &I allowed contractors to bid on the tear down, “we’ve got to demolish the property,” said an inspector on sight. He also said they would make sure part of the bid contract includes working with the family to gather as much belongings as possible during the process.

Right now, the family’s dog is still in the backyard, but we’re told it’s unharmed and safe. L & I said George will be able to grab him soon.

The tear down will happen Friday — the winning contractor plans to bring in a large bulldozer at 4 p.m. to being the process.

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