By John Shumway

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MONROEVILLE (KDKA) – Several businesses and medical offices in a Monroeville plaza have been closed due to concerns about possible mine subsidence.

The Fine Wine and Good Spirits store on Northern Pike in Monroeville had not been open long Monday when the employees saw the cracks in the floors, ceiling and façade and called 911. Emergency responders saw the cracks and feared for the building’s utilities, like gas lines. Evacuations were ordered from all the businesses in the plaza, including Five Guys.

“They evacuated us right after we opened,” says Five Guys employee Ryan Flowers. “They said there was a crack under the store.”

Bright yellow “DANGER” signs were placed on all the doors, prohibiting anyone from going inside.

“I guess some interior places within the building, you can see some floor movement, that type of thing, so we’re talking about an inch to two inches, that kind of thing,” building owner Craig Cozza said.

Cozza says he’s assembling a team of experts.

“Structural engineers, and we’re working with the mine subsidence people on best practices,” he said. “Then we’ll have to come up with how we’re going to fix it.”

Typically, if the subsidence is not too significant and is accessible, grout can be pumped into the mine to shore it up and stop the subsidence.

Cozza says this is all very sudden and unexpected.

“The building has been there about 50 years, which is crazy because there was never an issue with the building,” he said. “There was some issue with the parking lot prior to us owning it but this is western Pennsylvania, it happens. You just never know when it’s going to hit and unfortunately, it hit right before Christmas, which doesn’t help for Wine and Spirits or our dental guys or Five Guys or the Pro Bike shop. So we’re going to try to fix it as fast as we can.”

Subsidence experts from DEP spent about two hours going over the building inside and out doing an assessment. Once they determine the extent of the problem, a plan to make repairs can be developed. It’s only once Monroeville is assured that the building is safe the the evacuation order can be lifted.