Investigation underway into demolition of Fishtown homes

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- An investigation is underway into a demolition disaster in Philadelphia's Fishtown section.

City officials say they have determined why an elderly woman's home had to be torn down suddenly on Sunday, and it had nothing to do with her.

Not only did her home have to be torn down, but so did her neighbor's.

Klovena Klenk lives at 635 Thompson Street. The Department of Licenses and Inspections said improper digging in the basement of 633 undermined the shared foundation wall.

That led to a sudden and unexpected drop in 635 that left huge cracks in the walls and ceiling on Friday.

Klenk, 94, had to be evacuated and an emergency demolition was ordered.

"To me, it is a crime scene," said Klenk's son, Jim.

He wants this current cleanup to stop, believing it could damage evidence of improper work.

Calls to the firm responsible for the work at 633 have gone unanswered.

Jim Klenk and an engineer snapped pictures in the basement Friday. They show, he says, how workers in 633 improperly dug under foundation walls without taking proper precautions.

"What they did was they dug out the floor. They were improperly pinning the walls for the length of it and the wall collapsed," he said.

That move doomed both houses and led to the order to demolish. Now it will be up to experts and officials to figure out who was responsible.

L&I said both the contractor and the developer would bear responsibility for what has happened. They also said it was too early to launch a possible criminal investigation.

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