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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A landslide caused a road to buckle and a house to slide down a hill and collapse in the city’s Perry North section on Friday morning.
It was just before 5 o’clock Friday morning when Jack Gallino heard what he thought was the roar of a low-flying jet.
“I thought that for a couple of seconds and then I thought that must be that house that just fell over,” Gallino said.
When he looked out the back window of his home, he saw the dust cloud rising from the debris that was settling at the base of the hill behind where the house once stood.
WATCH: NewsChopper 2 flies over the scene —
For the folks that live on Semicir Street, watching the house since it was condemned and evacuated a year ago has been like watching its slow motion demise.
“We’ve watched it lean. Every day, it seems to go another an inch or two,” Gallino said.
Friday’s collapse completely destroyed the structure, leaving only the fire escape standing. There’s pieces of siding, shingles and the entire home’s foundation piled up down the ravine at the base of the hillside.
“It was standing last week, completely standing, and of course, this happened today, so it makes me sick to my stomach actually,” said Matthew Colston, who lives on Richey Avenue. “I’m worried about all our houses, because all our houses are on hills as well. This is a beautiful location by the park.”
BEFORE & AFTER 📷
This shifting hillside on Semicir Street has threatened the street for quite some time and it finally gave way. The picture on the left is from Google Maps and the one on the right is from just moments ago. @KDKA pic.twitter.com/Jq7GTyoWCg
— MEGHAN SCHILLER (@MeghanKDKA) February 22, 2019
The City of Pittsburgh had deliberately avoided sending in a contractor to tear it down out of concern the foundation was helping keep the entire hillside from collapsing.
Plus, Mayor Peduto’s Chief of Staff Dan Gilman says they didn’t know “whether or not it would even be safe for a demolition company to take down the properties given the hillside.”
Bright blue signs that read “condemned” have been stuck to several neighboring homes, and barricades have been up for weeks in anticipation of the slide worsening.
Inspectors from the city’s Department of Permits, Licenses and Inspections were called to the scene to assess the situation.
Thankfully, no injuries were reported.
Watch Meghan Schiller’s report —
Gilman says the house next door is a point of concern, which is why the city slapped the blue condemned sign on it in January.
Gilman says inspectors tell him, “There is signs of movement but not to the point they believe a collapse is imminent.”
As for the rest of the houses on the Perry Hilltop street overlooking Riverview Park…
“We don’t believe anyone else is in danger,” Gilman said, “but we do send crews up every day and if anything moves, we obviously would always put public safety first.”
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Councilwoman Darlene Harris says the city should be moving faster to remedy the problem.
“To me, this is an emergency just like the other landslides,” she said.
Gilman says the geological study has been completed and an engineering firm is designing a structure to hold back the hillside. He adds that could take several months to complete.
Crews also put up barriers along the buckling part of the roadway.
Meanwhile, the city has its hands full with landslides in a number of areas.
“This is massive. We have about two dozen sites we are checking on an almost daily basis,” Gilman said.
He says the city spent a quarter of a million dollars on landslides a year ago. That number could top $8 million this year.
“This is our natural disaster,” he said.