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Family Narrowly Escapes Partial Collapse Of Homes In Elmwood

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By Jenn Bernstein and Steve Patterson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Two homes on Glenmore Avenue in Elmwood section of Southwest Philadelphia have been condemned this morning after their back rear walls collapsed.

Renter Alicia Green was inside with her Aunt, when they felt a jolt late Sunday night.

“The kitchen started shaking and we heard the bricks rumbling,” said Green, “we just ran straight out.”

They were inside packing after a hole was found in a back wall.

Green says the Fire Department was at the home earlier responding to an electrical problem.

“I don’t know if I’m going to be able to go back in and get my stuff, but my kids were already gone, thank god,” said Green.

Green is emotional when she realizes just a few hours earlier, she was painting with her kids inside, celebrating Mother’s Day.

Her fiancé, James Murphy, is grateful the partial collapse didn’t happen in the overnight hours, since the kids sleep in the back room.

“I could have lost my babies, I could have lost my fiancé, I could have lost my life,” said Murphy.

Alicia says she has rented the place since November.

The Red Cross is assisting the family of five with food, clothing, and shelter.

Thomas Goldberg also lives on the block and is concerned about the safety of his home.

“The worry is the whole thing is going to go, just like the house down there. I’m afraid for my wife and my son, but me, I’d like to move out.”

L & I went home-to-home canvassing the safety of the houses.

As Steve Patterson reports, inspectors canvassed the block posting 21 new violations.

Fifteen vacant and occupied homes deemed unsafe, six vacants declared “imminently dangerous.”

“The owner is renting this to someone which is an absolute disgrace,” says L&I Emergency Services Director Scott Mulderig.

He added, “We want the owners to step up and do the right thing. We want them to be responsible for their properties.”

But several owners we spoke to say they are doing the right thing, they have been.

They say it takes L&I a near-disaster and a camera crew to respond to repeated calls.

“I called about the house over here to the left and the back of the house was literally falling off,” says landlord Christine Sherbert.

“L&I was called numerous times about it and nothing’s being done,” a neighbor said.

(Patterson:) “What if they don’t come and do something?”

(Inspector:) “Then we take them to court. If we find the owners.”

Those unsafe violations require 30 days before they go after the home owner. The imminent danger violations require a notice of 10 days to show up, or the courts will come after those home owners.

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