Collapsed homes force residents out

June 24, 2009 3:16:33 PM PDT
Tense moments for residents of a neighborhood in Trenton after two abandoned homes suddenly collapsed forcing some families to evacuate. City officials are taking action as neighbors worry that more homes may tumble. Utility crews were turning off the gas to two abandoned houses on Chambers Street in Trenton that suddenly collapsed Tuesday afternoon.

"Like a cloud of black smoke and a big loud crash and I looked out the window and the house had fallen down," neighbor Jennifer Barraud said.

Barraud and her three children live next door to the collapsed buildings and had to be evacuated.

Neighbors say the houses have been vacant for over 25 years and are believed to have given way after years of water damage from leaky roofs.

"The wood fatigues, it rots, it slips out of the joist pocket and you have a collapsed building," Director of Inspections Len Pucciatti said.

"I'm afraid because the building right next door to me is the same way, all the roofing has caved in," neighbor Gladys White-Jones said.

Neighbors along the 100 block of Chambers are afraid collapses will continue since so many homes are boarded up, now used only by drug addicts and squatters.

"Everything around here's boarded up. There's only one house on that side with somebody living there and only 3 on this side," neighbor Alwin Jones said.

The city is now soliciting emergency bids to knock down the homes that just collapsed.

To address the overall problem, officials say Trenton is getting access to almost a half million dollars in federal stimulus money that will allow for the demolition of dozens of abandoned buildings around the city that are a danger and need to come down.

"All of these places need to be torn down. When I first moved here it was great and now you can see. So they need to tear them down," neighbor Albert Matlock said.

Neighbors here say the demolition can't start soon enough.

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