WILMERDING (KDKA) — A partial building collapse in Wilmerding on Friday afternoon left two people injured and several people homeless.
The collapse was reported around 4:30 p.m. in the 300 block of Middle Avenue.
When the bricks began tumbling off the side of the apartment building, some scaffolding collapsed, injuring the two workers.
“Like a bomb, that’s what it sounded like,” said Lemuel Pullie Jr., a tenant. “A lot of smoke came into the front of my house.”
Pullie lives in an apartment on the other side of the collapsed wall with his fiancé. They’re among 10 tenants in four apartments who aren’t allowed back inside, not even to get their stuff.
“I’m devastated. All our personal things are in there, everything we own,” said Edna Fisher, another tenant.
Wilmerding: 300 block Middle Ave – building collapse & evacuation of apartment building.
— Allegheny County (@Allegheny_Co) February 24, 2017
Two men were rushed to the hospital. They were apparently trying to repair the wall because it was bowing. One of those men was the property manager.
“When the bricks came down, the scaffolding gave way, and he landed in a sitting position. And all the bricks came down on his head,” said Joseph George, the man’s son. “His head, neck and his legs are banged up.”
Both men are now in the hospital.
Adding to the concern was a strong smell of natural gas after the collapse. The gas is now shut off to the building, but the fear is more of the bricks will come down.
“We’re worried about the weather coming in, the high winds. The bad weather coming in,” said Asst. Chief Nick Hartzell, of the Wilmerding Volunteer Fire Department. “So taking all precautions, making sure the buildings are safe.”
The investigation into what went wrong is underway.
“The property owner tried to get some handy men to do the work, probably weren’t qualified to that and this is the result,” said Wilmerding Fire Marshal Al Hussey.
The fire marshal also says it appears there was no permit for the work to be done.
Meanwhile, the property manager’s son tells KDKA that his dad asked the building owner for proper scaffolding to do the job, but that the owner refused.
KDKA has been unable to reach the building owner for comment.
The Red Cross is helping the residents, four adults and six kids, who have no place to go.
Bricks continued to fall from the side of the building Saturday morning.