Partial collapse in West Philadelphia

A partial collapse of two rowhouses in West Philadelhia Monday left the homes sagging heavily toward the front and caused damage to an adjacent property, but resulted in no injuries.

Both houses were unoccupied at the time of collapse, just before noon.

Nishette Jones was watching television with her kids in an apartment in an adjacent house when the collapse occurred.

“The whole roof just came down,” Jones said. “I heard the windows shatter, rumbling, lots of rumbling. It shook my whole second floor apartment.”

Christina Chapman, who owns one of the two collapsed houses, was at work when disaster struck, but her two Scottish Deerhounds were home. One escaped, but the other stayed inside, apparently quaking with fear on the second floor.

Chapman said animal rescue personnel escorted her to the rear of the home, and when she called the pooch’s name, she came down the stairs to safety.

“It’s not a whole lot different than when parents get reunited with their children,” Chapman said. “OK, they have four legs and fur and I didn’t give birth to them, but they’re still a big part of my family. It’s a great day.”

Chapman got a peek inside her home and said nothing looked salvageable.

City Licenses and Inspections Commissioner Carlton Williams said initial reports indicate the party wall between the two homes collapsed. That left a gaping hole in the roof and the front of the houses slanting forward.

Williams said L&I has declared both homes imminently dangerous. He said there was no history of code violations or complaints for either property. The cause of the collapse is under investigation.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the Licenses and Inspections Commissioner’s name. NewsWorks regrets the error.

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