Baltimore Crews Search Building After Collapse

BALTIMORE -- A vacant rowhome collapsed in northwest Baltimore on Monday afternoon. City police said the collapse happened at about 3:30 p.m. in the 1800 block of Druid Hill Avenue near Laurens Street...


BALTIMORE --

A vacant rowhome collapsed in northwest Baltimore on Monday afternoon.

City police said the collapse happened at about 3:30 p.m. in the 1800 block of Druid Hill Avenue near Laurens Street.

Authorities told 11 News that the building was a vacant corner row home.

There have been no reports of injuries.

Witnesses said they saw a woman walk down the sidewalk when it collapsed; however, fire officials said firefighters used infrared cameras to look for anyone who might be trapped under the rubble, and so far, crews haven't found anyone.

"We are having our firefighters manually pull away lumber and bricks to make sure no one is in there," Baltimore City Fire spokesman Kevin Cartwright said.

People who live and work nearby said the structure had been deteriorating for years.

"Someone could have seriously got hurt," resident Steven Andre said.

"They should take these buildings down. Once the water gets in them and they start decaying, it's just a matter of time before they fall in," resident Timothy Savoy said.

Fire officials said windy weather may have played a role in the collapse. Neighbors said they fear it's only a matter of time before other abandoned row homes crumble.

"All those old houses have been vacant for years. Don't let them sit there, because the same thing will happen again. If nobody's hurt this time, eventually someone is going to get hurt," Savoy said.

Authorities said an occupied home next to the collapsed house had to be evacuated.

The Department of Public Works is responding to the scene with heavy equipment to assist in removing the rubble. The DPW said it also needs to see if any damage was done to the adjacent home.

A spokeswoman for Baltimore's Department of Housing said, "The reality is that vacant housing is abundant. We do our best to maintain, manage and monitor the properties (including) locating owners and taking them to court or putting lines on their properties to hold them accountable."

Residents questioned how effectively that policy is being deployed across the city's 30,000 vacant houses.

"Get on top of the people who own those houses to do something with them. It's too many in these houses for this to be sitting like that," Andre said.

The Housing Department said they've been dealing with the collapsed property since 2008. Officials said the city took the owner to court and ordered him to rehab the house.

The city said the owner started renovations, then sold the house in July. The new owner was ordered to fix up the property less than a month ago.

The city said people can call 311 to report vacant homes that look structurally unsound. Officials said inspectors respond to those calls and will arrange to shore up or demolish homes that pose a threat.

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