ST. LOUIS – For a third time in less than a week, a building collapsed in St. Louis. This time, there were people inside. Fortunately, No one was hurt.
According to the St. Louis Fire Department, the second floor of Dorothy’s TV, Appliance & Furniture, at MLK Drive and Hamilton, fell onto the sidewalk about 10:15 a.m. Friday.
“We were in there just moving some stuff around and we heard this big boom. The next thing you know, we looked up front and everything was just falling,” said employee Leland Vasser. “(It) scared me pretty good. I’m just glad we had that second floor there to keep this stuff from falling down on us.”
Vasser and three others inside the store were frozen in place; there was nowhere to hide. Thankfully, all the tumbling brick and mortar from the second floor did not fall through the ceiling over their heads and no one was hit on the sidewalk. It remained buried by debris Friday evening. Orange cones and police tape surrounded the site as more bricks appeared ready to fall.
A search dog was used to conduct a search of the building. All of the people in the building were accounted for and no injuries were reported.
Part of a building in the historic Lemp Brewery complex fell over the weekend. A former church on Cook Avenue fell Wednesday. There were no injuries. No was inside either building.
The building on MLK Drive is believed to be about 80 years old.
A resident said a few bricks had already begun to fall earlier this week.
Records show the city’s Building Division opened an investigation there two days before the collapse, inspecting for exterior code violations. Frank Oswald of the city’s Building Division confirmed the building was condemned after the inspection.
The business continued to operate.
More buildings in St. Louis have either started falling or appear ready to fall, with bricks leaning and bowing.
The city has been aggressive in tearing down derelict buildings, going from just 32 demolitions in 2017 to 660 last year, but can’t keep up.
“It is amazing that no one was injured,” said Captain Garon Mosby.
It is such a concern that authorities are taking those watchwords for crime or terrorism—”if you see something, saying something”—and applying them to dangerous buildings.
Wet weather is a huge factor, according to experts.
The last time St. Louis had below average rainfall for a year was 2017.
According to the National Weather Service, St. Louis has had nearly 40 inches of precipitation in 2020, more than a foot above normal after being 13 inches above normal in 2019.
With all of that moisture and a lack of maintenance, old brick buildings can essentially get soft as wet bricks and mortar expand and contract through repeated hot and cool cycles.
Firefighters are asking anyone who sees a failing structure to contact the City of St. Louis Building Division at 314-622-3313.