A four-story building that was being demolished collapsed on an adjacent Salvation Army Family Store Wednesday morning in Philadelphia, Pa., killing at least six people and wounding at least 14. According to news reports, a woman was pulled alive from the wreckage of the one-story thrift store Wednesday night after being trapped for more than 13 hours; 13 others were sent to area hospitals for injuries on Wednesday morning. Rescue efforts continued today.
The Salvation Army is still gathering details of the building collapse at 22nd and Market Street in the Center City West neighborhood, according to Lt. Col. Donald Lance, divisional leader of the Salvation Army’s Eastern Pennsylvania and Delaware division. “Our number one concern is for the safety of our customers and the employees who were involved,” he said. “We are coordinating with the Police and Fire Department, the Office of Emergency Management and local authorities. Also, we have sent our own disaster response team to the site to serve survivors and first responders. We ask for the public to pray for those involved.”
The building’s owner, STB Investments Corp. of Philadelphia, and Campbell Construction, the company performing the demolition, could not be reached for comment. STB Investments issued a statement via its attorneys that read in full, “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the people affected by this tragic event. Please know that we are committed to working with the City of Philadelphia and other authorities to determine what happened at the site.”
According to court documents, Griffin Campbell, the owner of Campbell Construction, pleaded guilty in 2009 to insurance fraud and was arraigned in January 2007 for aggravated assault. Campbell was reportedly issued a demolition permit for the building in February.
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) initiated an investigation. “OSHA does not comment on open investigations,” said a spokesperson for the agency. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter pledged to open a “wide-ranging” investigation at a Thursday press conference at the site of the accident.