Demolition of Philadelphia building under investigation after collapse atop thrift store kills 6

Updated Jun 7, 2013
Workers search through the rubble of a collapsed building in Philadelphia. Credit: Reuters/Eduardo MunozWorkers search through the rubble of a collapsed building in Philadelphia. Credit: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz

A four-story building on Philadelphia’s Market Street collapsed atop a Salvation Army thirft store next door Wednesday morning, killing at least 6 people and injuring more than a dozen others.

The collapse happened around 10:43 a.m. Wednesday, shaking the ground and creating a noise that one witness who spoke with said sounded “like a freight train.” The victims included five women and one man. Since the collapsed some 14 people have been pulled from the rubble—some laying under complete walls.

According to, the building was under active demolition and had all the necessary up-to-date permits for that work. Philly-based firm Griffin-Campbell Construction was performing the work and received those permits in February.

Though just how the building collapsed so suddenly is still under investigation, there are at least two eyewitness accounts that may give clues on the cause.

According to a Reuters report, 31-year-old construction worker Dan Gillis was working a job across the street from the collapsed building. Gillis said he saw “a crane remove a supporting beam from the front of the building and then the wall next to the thrift store started to sway.”

Another eyewitness and Philadelphia resident, Jeffrey Fehnel, 48, said a backhoe collided with the rear wall of the building at about the same time.

‘This obviously could have been so much worse,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said, adding that it’s not unusual in the city for demolition work to take place next to open businesses or homes.

“There are demolitions taking place on a daily basis,” Nutter told the Inquirer. “So it’s not unusual that there would be people in a store or building next to where a demolition is taking place.”