Partial collapse of Farrell apartment building forces families out

Local News

Twenty people have been forced from a Farrell apartment building after part of it collapsed Wednesday night.

Delino White and Torree Smith came back to see Unit 707 of the apartment building. They were inside when the collapse happened.

“I was sitting in the house and heard a loud noise,” Smith said. “I thought it was down at the mill and then he looked outside because the house started shaking.”

White said he saw the roof falling.

“My first instinct was to grab her, so I grabbed her and told her to come on. That’s when we ran out the back door.”

Bricks are scattered everywhere and part of the roof caved in. An entrance covering for two of the six units also collapsed to the ground.

Two bikes on the porch tell another dimension of the story.

“We were just thankful that the children playing out in the front yard weren’t affected,” Mike Renner said. “They were more in the alleyway more than the front yard.”

The apartment building on Lee Avenue is nearly 100 years old.

“Right now, it’s structurally unsound,” Renner said.

The city has attached red signs declaring the property condemned — dangerous and unsafe — and warning people to keep out. The tenants can’t even go into the building to get any of their things.

The owner is from out of state, but flew in Thursday morning. He’s working with the city and the tenants.

Smith, who is pregnant, just moved in about six weeks ago.

“It’s scary to know I just moved here and now I don’t have a house because this happened. So it’s like, really scary.”

A structural engineer will determine if the building is strong enough. The next storm might be capable of bringing it down.

“I don’t know, we’re going to wait and let the engineers determine if it can be saved or if it’s going to have to be demolished,” Renner said.

Those tenants — 11 adults and nine children — are looking for places to stay now.

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