Wind topples rowhouse frames

No one hurt in collapse of three-story buildings under construction on Fleet Street

February 19, 2007|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,Sun reporter

Three partially constructed rowhouses in Southeast Baltimore collapsed yesterday afternoon amid heavy winds, forcing police to block off a portion of the road.

Nobody was injured when the three-story structures fell apart about 1:30 p.m., but police cordoned off the 3500 block of Fleet St. while the owners attempted to get in touch with contractors to clear debris from the road.

The three rowhouses were being built on an open lot. It appeared that gusts of wind had pushed the frames off their foundation, over a metal fence and onto a sidewalk. The only support preventing the entire structure from collapsing into the street was a telephone pole.

"It's amazing that the wind can make that happen," said Donald Dewar, one of the owners, as he surveyed the damage yesterday. "That wind must have really just ... " he trailed off.

Construction crews began building about a week ago, Dewar said. "They were just hollow shells," he said.

When Patricia Massey, another owner, arrived she said: "Oh, my gosh, how could this happen?"

She said that her company, Metroscape Development, plans to build 17 rowhouses on the lot.

The complex will be called Canton Heights, Dewar said. When complete, each house will sell in the $550,000 range, Dewar said.

"They are in the highest part of Canton," he said. "There will be fabulous views."

He added: "The most important thing is nobody got hurt. It could have been tragic."

A city building inspector was on the scene yesterday but declined to comment.

Edward Schwartzhaupt, who lives near the building site, said he heard the first building collapse, and ran outside to see what had happened.

"I saw two come down," he said. "It looked like dominoes."

Other neighbors came outside after the crash to look at the wreckage and snap photos.

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