Home collapse in Wilmington

May 29, 2009 1:48:04 PM PDT
Around 5 a.m. Friday after the walls started tumbling down in the 400 block of East Second Street. The walls of the occupied home at 413 suddenly gave way.

"I didn't think that the steps would cave in. I knew that the stairs were separating from the wall and that's why we tried to notify our landlord with a letter. We've been sending letters for two weeks," Latoya Coates of Wilmington said.

A woman said to be related to the elderly and infirmed landlord refused to talk to Action News, but according to inspectors the home had a number of other minor code violations.

Five other people in the home had to be rescued from the second floor via ladder by Wilmington firefighters because the wall that collasped was a stair wall.

Five homes in all were affected by the collapse. Twenty-one people were evacuated. The American Red Cross is offering help to them.

What happened this morning could have caused major injuries. Miraculously Latoya's mother received only minor injuries when she was coming down the steps.

The rest of her family had to be rescued from the second floor by firefighters.

"The whole wall just came off, that's why we didn't come down the steps," 4-year-old Aaliyah Coates said.

The Commisioner for License and Inspections says what happened could have had deadly results.

Neighbors had to be evacuated until their homes are deemed safe.

"It could have been a whole lot worse, because of the proximity to the other houses. They kind of depend on each other, they're row houses so when one fails, there's a potential for the others to fail as well," L & I Commissioner Jeffrey Starkey said.

The Red Cross is trying to find temporary housing for 15 people and that's been a real challenge because this is NASCAR weekend and every hotel and motel room in the area is already booked.

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