A screen shot from NBC 10 of the partially collapsed house in North Philly. Complaint calls had been made to L&I for years, according to residents.
As we reported, City Council hearings on the building collapse at 22nd and Market continued yesterday with a raft of testimony from former L&I personnel, including onetime commissioners Fran Burns and Bennett Levin. While Burns was asked questions about the way demolition practices were implemented during her tenure, which lasted through last summer, Levin read [...]
Yesterday Councilman Mark Squilla told reporters that it was a lit cigarette that sparked the explosion at 428 Daly Street–a nugget of information traveled far and wide. In USA Today, the headline blared: “Official: Cigarette may have caused Pa. gas blast.” The AP article read:
Councilman Mark Squilla was at the scene and said a contractor had been trying to light the pilot on a water heater. Squilla says neighbors reported that the man lit a cigarette at one point and the house exploded.
Today, however, Mayor Nutter called it “speculation” when confronted with rumors of cigarettes and gas leaks. In his press conference, he made it clear that neither of those facts had been confirmed.
Photo: Camilla Brandfield-Harvey
To watch the news conference live, click here.
Basic information announced:
- Incident occurred at 11:09 a.m.
- Determined: due to natural gas
- Area deemed under control at 1 p.m.
- 8 people affected, 3 of which are children
- 4 adults and 3 children suffered minor injuries
- 1 adult (the worker on site) rushed to HUP suffering from severe burns and then transferred to Temple; in critical condition
- 28 homes remain evacuated; plan to reopen 22 to residents sometime this evening
- Fire Department stopped work at 7 p.m. yesterday evening and resumed investigation today at 9 a.m.
- The south side of the street has no electricity; plans to replace a line today
- North side, home from 401-421, then 437-445 can return
- Homes directly across from 428 (423, 433) residents still out of their homes
- 428, 429, 430, 431, 432, and 433 are still without gas service
- Water department reported flooding at 426 through 430
The home at 428 Daly Street that exploded yesterday mid-morning was owned by SCK Investments, a new investment team of Steve Finney and his daughter, Cathy Finney-Hughes. This home was their first project. According to a profile Steve Finney posted on July 19 on a meetup page for the Philadelphia Real Estate Investors Association:
“I have 41 years experience as a Realtor and 18 years (part time) as a builder/remodeler. My daughter (partner) and I are just completing our first rehab and have made every mistake in the book. Now we’re ready to do it right.”
Photo: Laura Kicey
For prior coverage of the South Philadelphia rowhome explosion and collapse, go here.
The latest news on the home that exploded yesterday, 428 Daly Street, and the collapse of the surrounding homes, 426 Daly and 430 Daly, is that 428 was under renovation by four permitted, licensed contractors hired by property owner SCK Investments, aka Steve D. Finney. L&I reported that three of the four had finished work on the building. The contractor for the fourth who was critically injured was working on a hot water heater in the basement at the time of the blast. The city released a statement saying the explosion was a result of natural gas. Further investigation into how the gas leaked will continue today.
The eight injured are all in stable condition.
As of last night, residents of the south side of the street were still evacuated due to a lack of power. Those on Wolf Street and on the north side of the street have been allowed to come home.
We’ll have more about SCK and Steve Finney later today. Stay tuned. Meanwhile…
Photo by Laura Kicey.
Three Philly rowhomes homes have collapsed–one completely, and two others in part. A contractor was working on the basement of 428 Daly Street when an explosion or collapse happened close to 11 a.m. Monday morning. He was said to be working on a hot water heater. He is now in critical condition at HUP, and [...]
Photo of woman at demolition site paying honor to one of the collapse victims. Photo: Laura Kicey.
Photo: Gerry Senker
Emergency vehicles are at the scene at 12th and Berks, where part of a building under construction, the Science Education Research Center, has fallen in. An injured construction worker has been lowered onto a stretcher and is being taken for treatment. Below, Temple’s most recent tweet: TU Advisory: TU Police reporting incident on construction site [...]
Photo: Bradley Maule
In Next City, Patrick Kerkstra makes Philly negative exceptionalists feel better by pointing out that while Philadelphia demolition regulations are, indeed, lax, it’s far from alone. His lede is priceless:
“In Philadelphia, a city with a rich history of municipal incompetence, there’s a natural impulse to assume the worst about city government when tragedy strikes…”
But that wouldn’t be fair, he says. In fact, Kerkstra analyzed 12 cities and found that Philadelphia’s inadequate supervision of demolition is typical of many large cities. So much so that this could, Kerkstra points out, happen anywhere.
This morning let’s start out with a complicated legal concept (bring on the coffee!) that may let the City of Philadelphia off the hook for the building collapse (if, indeed, the city was at fault to begin with). From CBS 3:
“The city is immune from suit for tort liability except in eight specifically enumerated circumstances,” notes the mayor’s top attorney, solicitor Shelley Smith [at left]. She says none of those eight circumstances — most of which involve city-owned properties or city-owned utilities — apply in this building collapse case.