Man rescued after building collapse near Camden Yards

Russell Street closed for hours, causing traffic backups downtown

September 29, 2014|By Jessica Anderson | The Baltimore Sun

A man working inside a rowhouse near Camden Yards was trapped under tons of debris for several hours Monday after the back of the building collapsed, Baltimore fire officials said.

Rescue workers pulled the victim — who suffered life-threatening injuries — from the home at 528 S. Paca St. about 4:30 p.m. The building collapsed about noon, but crews spent hours attempting to secure the structure. During the rescue, officials shut down a portion of Russell Street, snarling traffic south of downtown.

Another man also hurt in the collapse was taken to a local hospital with injuries that were not deemed life-threatening, said Fire Department spokesman Ian Brennan.

He said the pair — who were not identified — appeared to be doing renovations to the home in the Ridgely's Delight neighborhood at the time of the collapse. It was unclear whether the men lived there or were contractors, Brennan said.

The back half of the house was severely damaged while the building's front facade remained intact.

Crews were called to the home at 12:35 p.m. and remained until about 6 p.m. During the rescue, Brennan said, the trapped victim remained alert and talked to firefighters through the debris.

The department's Special Rescue Operations Unit responded and built wooden braces in an effort to enter the home and safely extract the victim. A crane was set up to help with the rescue, and a team of physicians from nearby Maryland Shock Trauma Center treated the victim at the scene.

According to state property records, the home was last sold in April for $94,000. The owners could not be reached for comment Monday.

The city's housing website shows three permits had been issued to the property, including a demolition permit that allowed the "removal of more than 1/3 of the structure on any level. The remaining structure will be secured and shored up." Two additional permits allowed for a third-story addition, a rooftop deck and other improvements.

The home previously had been the subject of 311 complaints, including a vacant building complaint made in May 2013 and "building permit complaint" in March 2013, but the website does not provide additional details.

Two adjacent rowhouses were evacuated during Monday's rescue, the department said.

After hearing the collapse, Craig Kaptain, who was painting a storefront on nearby Washington Boulevard, walked to the back of the business and said he saw "a cloud of dust."

Authorities closed several streets while the rescue crews worked, including southbound Russell Street between Washington Boulevard and West Lee Street.

Baltimore Sun reporter Colin Campbell contributed to this article.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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