House Still Falling Down

WHEELING – While sitting in his home Saturday evening, Kareem Shaw heard a loud boom and at first didn’t think much of it.

With numerous storms occurring lately, Shaw believed it was thunder. But when he looked outside and across the street, he noticed 125 1/2 14th St. was still shuddering from partially collapsing. It was the second time in about three weeks since the building’s back half took a turn for the worse.

“I just don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Shaw said of his reason for calling 911. “With all this rain it’s going to keep falling.”

Shaw made his remarks as members of the Wheeling Fire Department responded to his call for service. A couple firefighters walked to the back of the building, looked around and then left in their fire engines.

Linda Scott, who lives in the apartment building next to the crumbling house, said she has called city officials several times in the past three years, asking that something be done about the house. She fears the building’s next collapse will be into her apartment.

“This is terrible. This thing has been going on too long,” Scott said.

Scott noted after the first collapse, city building inspectors told her they were going to seek emergency funding from the city to have at least half of the building torn down.

But Scott said it is time for the entire house to be razed. Residents were told the house currently has no electric service hooked up to it.

Shiree Valine, who lives in Scott’s apartment building, said in addition to the danger of the building falling down, it also is putting off a mildew-like smell that she’s concerned about breathing in.

“It’s going to become a health hazard,” Valine said, noting she also was concerned about possible asbestos being released into the air from the house.

A neon poster on its front door states “Danger: This structure is declared unsafe for human occupancy or use.

“It is unlawful for any person to use or occupy this building.”

The notice is signed by city building codes official Tom Wilson.

Councilman Robert “Herk” Henry, who represents East Wheeling, said he was not aware of the building and its problems, but he planned to look into the matter.