Mayor Charles Matthews declared a state of emergency in Connellsville after the owner of an abandoned building was trapped and injured when the building partially collapsed at 5:30 yesterday afternoon.
The block of South Pittsburgh Street between West Crawford and Fairview avenues will remain closed to vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle traffic until the building has been demolished.
Detours put in place Thursday when bricks fell from the building remain in effect.
Brian Upton, who owns 126-130 S. Pittsburgh St., a former commercial structure, was working on the building lintels early Monday when the third floor collapsed into the second, trapping him.
Rick Adobato, director of Fayette EMS, said Upton suffered injuries to his torso and his legs. He was transported to UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh by STAT MedEvac helicopter. He was reported in good condition late Monday night by a hospital spokesperson.
Crews rescued Upton from the building just before 6:30 p.m. Rescuers reported that Upton remained conscious and spoke with rescuers during the operation.
Two others inside the building escaped without injuries. Officials did not name them.
Bob Topper, administrative director of Fayette EMS and New Haven Hose Company chief, said only four men at a time could work to free Upton because of instability within the building.
The Uniontown Fire Department assisted New Haven, which already had a crew at a commercial fire in Bullskin Township.
"It's very dangerous," Topper said. He credited the successful rescue with crews working together.
Upton has been working since last week to render the building safe. A 3-foot section of bricks on the south side of the building fell to Pittsburgh Street and an alley next to the building during a heavy thunderstorm Thursday evening.
Code and health officer Tom Currey said Upton had already removed the loose brick from the corner and told him that since the road remained closed, he would remove the loose section of the fourth floor.
"He was working on the lintels in the early afternoon," Currey said. "I don't know if they were too heavy, but the floor collapsed, trapping him. I hope he recovers quickly."
Currey said the second-story wall now has begun bowing and has made the building unsafe.
Currey said he will contact Allegheny Power and Pennsylvania American Water in the morning to disconnect utilities.
Dr. Gerry Perez, who owns the building just south of Upton's, will close his office for the rest of the week, Matthews said, because his utility lines are located in the alley adjacent to Upton's building.
A message on the answering machine of Dr. Cathleen Lizza, whose office is to the north of Upton's building, indicated her office would be closed today and open Wednesday.
With Matthews declaring a state of emergency, demolition will begin today. He said Ritenour and Sons, Connellsville, will demolish the structure.
"We're going to get it torn down," Matthews said. "It will take at least the rest of this week and maybe next week. We don't want to endanger any structures across the street."
Matthews said the city will begin working on who will be responsible for the demolition.
He asked residents and everyone traveling through the city for patience. "We're trying to keep people safe," he said.
The building has deteriorated over the years.
The Connellsville Board of Health declared 126-130 S. Pittsburgh St. a public nuisance on Oct. 29. Currey cited Upton for having an unsafe structure on Feb. 24.
Currey directed the street department to place saw horses blocking the sidewalk in front of the structure following the board meeting on Feb. 28. The bricks had begun bowing on the north wall before they fell during last week's storm.