Owner of Rittenhouse apartments cited for deteriorated fire escape which killed one

fire escape collapse rittenhouse
A man looks at site of a balcony collapse on Sunday morning that injured three people who fell 35 feet on 22nd St. near Rittenhouse Square. Credit: Charles Mostoller for

The city’s Department of Licenses & Inspections has cited the owner of the historic John Bell house, where a 22-year-old fell to his death around midnight Sunday after a 4th-floor fire escape collapsed.

“There was some deterioration of the fire escape, the landing and the bolts,” said Licenses and Inspections spokeswoman Rebecca Swanson. “The fire escape now currently can’t be used; it has pulled away from the wall somewhat. The whole thing needs to be looked at.”

The Khorram Group, which owns the building, has been cited for unsafe conditions while an engineer performs a full study of the building for the city, the results of which may be announced tomorrow.

The fire escape has been barred to residents, while the interior has been deemed safe, Swanson said.

Under city law property owners are required to maintain the fire escapes at their buildings, Swanson said.

Today, the victim was identified as Albert Suh, of Leonia, N.J. Also hurt in the fall were a 26 and 24-year-old woman, who suffered broken bones to their backs but were listed in stable condition.

The three reportedly went on the fire escape to smoke a cigarette during a birthday party at an apartment in the building.

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