By Syma Chowdhry
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Two workers were injured while demolishing a vacant home in Strawberry Mansion.
The crews were taking a break around 10:30am when bricks from the home next door came crashing down
“It was just a freak accident,” neighbor Corey Butler said. “They were at the wrong place at the wrong time.”
Butler lives next door to the vacant home on the 3000 block of West Diamond Street.
He called 911 after the rubble hit one worker in the head – the other in the leg.
Both were wearing safety gear but were taken to the hospital.
“One of them started bleeding,” Butler explained. “They both were conscious at the time.”
Neighbors say this home has been vacant for more than 20 years. It partially collapsed a few weeks ago. That’s when the city stepped in.
“As a whole we have been taking a more aggressive approach in trying to get the worst of the worst buildings down,” Scott Mulderig, the director of L&I’s new Emergency Services Division.
The division was created to better handle situations like this and to tackle the problem of crumbling vacant homes.
“We’ve been taking a more proactive approach,” Mulderig explained. “We did get an additional funding source of $3 million mid-year transfer to our demolition program.”
Neighbors, like Ruby Branch, say the city needs to be more aggressive to prevent dangerous conditions. “I’ve called the city more than one time to tear this building down,” she added. “I even called them when they came and put a sign up that said ‘Dangerous.’ And it took something like this to happen.”
L & I says the workers acted properly and were wearing hard hats.
In this case – it was a planned demo where the city hired a private company to knock the home down.
Right now –city officials have identified 500 homes as “eminently dangerous” and will try to take them down.
They encourage residents to call the city’s 311 number to report vacant buildings.
Mulderig said, “We are leaving it up to some of the neighbors to point it out to us. If they hear noises, give us a call.”
You can also report problems online at: http://www.phila.gov/311/