Reddit: Citizen tried to file complaint before fatal building collapse

building collapse
A victim being carried out of the rubble. Credit: Rikard Larma/Metro

A Philadelphia man attempted to file a Department of Licenses and Inspections complaint through the city 311 call center a month before Wednesday’s building collapsed that killed at least six people and injured at least 14 more, according to an email exchange posted on Reddit.com.

“My friend Stephen lives nearby the site and passes it regularly,” a user named Chartzilla posted Wednesday night.

“About a month ago he reported it to the city because it was being ‘demolished in a manner that appears to be clearly unsafe.’ This is a tragic event that could have been easily avoided.”

The user pasted a purported email exchange between the man the 311.

The thread begins with a message sent to Philly 311 on May 6 stating a property at 2130 Market St. was “being demolished in a manner that appears to be clearly unsafe,” noting workers weren’t wearing safety equipment like hardhats, were demolishing brick facades with crowbars, the sidewalk was not being adequately protected and, most chillingly, “there appears to be no adequate plan to prevent the collapse of walls or facing materials onto pedestrians and those exiting the subway.”

Unfortunately, the property that ultimately collapsed was located at 2136 – 2140 Market St.

Officials at 311 allegedly replied on May 7 that the address provided wasn’t valid and asked the man the building’s legal address, what time of day and days of the week work was being done, who was doing the work and if there was a valid permit visible.

The man said he emailed back the same day that “there are several buildings being demolished on the south side of the 2100 block of Market Street” and gave the address as 2134 Market St. He said there was no valid permit visible and no indications of who was completing the work.

He then allegedly wrote, “I do hope that you manage to convey this information to L&I prior to a building collapse that leads to an injury of someone working on this building or to someone waiting for a bus or exiting the subway at that corner.”

The man did not apparently receive any reply from the call center after that date, only two days short of a month before the fatal building collapse.


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