Man rescued after house collapses in Grays Ferry

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Fire crews rescued a man after a home collapsed, trapping him under the rubble. (WPVI)

Fire crews rescued a man after a home collapsed, trapping him under the rubble.

The incident happened Saturday in the 1400 block of Patton Street.

"Around 7:30 this morning I heard a loud crack. It was almost the sound as if a tree was uprooting," said Gregory Cooper of Grays Ferry.

Cooper says he then looked out of his apartment window to see the house collapse.

"I ran to the front of the building and I asked, 'was anybody in there?' And I heard a voice from the back of the house hollering 'help,' " said Cooper.

Specially-trained firefighters rescued him from the pile of debris.

"Squad 47 is a special rescue apparatus, and they have special tools and equipment," said Philadelphia Fire Department Commissioner Derrick Sawyer. "And because they were equipped, they were able to extricate one person from the dwelling."

Police say the 39-year-old man, who was on the third floor, was the only person in the home. He was taken to the hospital in stable condition and treated for back pain.

According to the Department of Licenses and Inspections, the stand-alone building had no violations. The cause of the collapse is still under investigation.

"We've had a lot of wind, we've had a lot of severe weather. It makes the buildings more vulnerable," said Karen Guss of Licenses and Inspections. "Can't say certainly if that was the cause, but it doesn't help."

Neighbor Raymond White said he spoke to the man who lived in the home a few weeks ago about the deteriorating condition of the building.

"It fell off. All of the wall fell off so you could actually see cobblestone, meaning that water could now seep in and that would cause structural damage," said White .

The first floor of the building was a barbershop. The sign was still visible in the rubble, but neighbors say it's been closed for years.

Folks who saw the damage were shocked and thankful the man who lived upstairs wasn't killed.

"To know that he's in stable condition, to know that he's in medical care, it look like he will survive, that brings some joy to my heart," said Rev. Tiggs Washington of Williams Temple C.M.E. Church.

City engineers have been investigating, but officials say they may never know for sure what caused the house to collapse.

As for how unusual an incident like this is, city inspectors say a full house collapse like this happenes once every year or two.
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