STRAWBERRY MANSION Two demolition workers in Strawberry Mansion were injured Tuesday when struck by a piece of brownstone that fell from a rowhouse next to a building they were bringing down, officials said.
Two of the workers demolishing 3026 W. Diamond St. - owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority - were leaving the site about 10:30 a.m. for a break when a piece of brownstone from 3028 W. Diamond fell on them, said Scott Mulderig, director of L&I's emergency services division.
The material bounced off one worker's head and struck the other's leg, Mulderig said. Both were wearing hard hats and were not seriously injured, he said. They were taken to a hospital and later released. Their names were not released.
It was unclear why the brownstone dislodged.
Ruby Branch, who owns the house at 3028, said she had noticed nothing unusual about her property's facade.
"There wasn't no problem until they started doing this," Branch said.
Mulderig said ordinary wear and tear combined with the demolition crew's activities likely contributed to the incident.
Property records indicate the house was built in 1915.
"It was probably weak, and when we went and cut the wall loose, it became even more weak," he said.
The city will repair the brownstone facades of the neighboring rowhouses at no cost to their owners, Mulderig said.
"We're certainly going to make the neighbors on both sides whole," he said.
From the street, the house at 3026 had appeared stable, if clearly abandoned.
But it had stood vacant for decades, neighbors said.
After its back portion collapsed this month, L&I declared it imminently dangerous, so far gone that the only way to render it safe was to demolish it.
The demolition crew contracted by L&I had been working to bring the house down for about a week, Mulderig said.
It removed the facade first, he said, then worked backward into the house.
"Our investigations concluded they were doing everything in a safe manner," Mulderig said.
Once a building makes the "imminently dangerous" list, code-enforcement officials can order the owner to fix it or take it down. If the owner ignores the notice, the city can pursue the matter in court or take down the structure and place a lien against the property.
The Housing Authority bought 3026 W. Diamond for $1 in 1968.
PHA officials did not return a call for comment on the property.
Mulderig said L&I encourages city agencies to maintain their own properties, but stepped in to take down 3026 W. Diamond after the partial collapse rendered it too hazardous to leave standing.
"We don't treat PHA any different from any other property owners," Mulderig said. He said L&I had notified the agency of the violations at the house, but received no response.
PHA is listed as the owner of several imminently dangerous properties in the city.
In 2013, PHA paid the city $6.3 million to settle demolition and other debt-related to work L&I had done on PHA-owned properties.