Philadelphia Debris

Philadelphia Debris:  Artwork Collapses Onto Chinatown Street

Some Philadelphia residents had quite a wake up call this morning. Emergency responders were called to the 900 block of Race Street in Center City’s China Town when Philadelphia debris came crashing to the ground.  The decorative façade hanging on the side of a China Town building fell at 4:15 a.m. this morning.

Thankfully, no one was injured when the Philadelphia debris of ceramic and plaster artwork collapsed to the ground.  The Philadelphia debris fell off the four-story building onto the Race Street sidewalk and street.  Police removed people from their homes who lived close to the accident as a safety precaution, but they were allowed back inside shortly after the incident occurred.  A brightly-colored artistic tree was attached to the north side of the four-story building. It fell off the side of the building and onto the Race Street sidewalk and street.  Today part of the street and sidewalk are taped off to prevent people from walking in areas where they could be injured by the fallen Philadelphia debris.

Licenses and Inspections will determine what caused the artwork to fall. Falling debris is nothing new the Philadelphians. Philly.com reminds us of the tragedy that occurred less than a year ago, when a brick wall crashed onto a Salvation Army thrift store during a botched demolition in Center City. Nineteen people were inside. Six died, including the 24-year-old daughter of City Treasurer Nancy Winkler. A Ukrainian immigrant who was pulled from the rubble after 13 hours lost both of her legs.  Two months later, a house in Mantua collapsed, forcing the evacuation of a group home for people with disabilities.  In September, a vacant South Philadelphia rowhouse partially collapsed, displacing two residents on either side. Three weeks later, a West Philadelphia home gave way.  At least four buildings unexpectedly collapsed last month alone – two on the same day. Falling debris from an East Germantown building endangered two pedestrians.

Since the Salvation Army thrift store collapse, the Department of Licenses and Inspections is implementing a paperless data system, expected to be fully operational by the end of 2015. Project eCLIPSE (electronic Commercial Licensing, Inspection and Permit Services Enterprise) will enable online permitting and licensing and will improve data-reporting and data-sharing capabilities.  Philadelphia Mayer Michael Nutter stated that “in order to bring Philadelphia into the modern age, we have to be a modern government.” Many feel that fatal building collapses and unsteady debris falling will be better prevented in the near future, by requiring contractors to submit a safety plan.  Submitting records allows the Department of Licenses and Inspections to spot trends when there is a problem, and analyze how to make things safer for the future.” NBC10 Philadelphia stated this morning that Licenses and Inspections would investigate what caused the artwork to fall.

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