A York City family was forced from their home Sunday night after a portion of the house's rear wall collapsed.
The roughly 5-foot by 9-foot section of the rear wall at 43 Columbia Ave. came crashing down just before 6:30 p.m., leaving a pile of bricks in the backyard and a gaping hole in the house.
"They aren't going to be able to stay here," said Capt. David Ferguson of York City Fire/Rescue. "It's going to be condemned for tonight."
A woman and her son who live in the rental three-story home and were assisted by the York/Adams Chapter of the American Red Cross. The woman's daughter was staying with her father.
Phone call: Tracy Williams-Naugle said she was at work when a neighbor called and told her that part of the wall of her home collapsed.
Williams-Naugle said the wall, which divides the kitchen from the backyard, had shown signs of distress in the past but was never fixed.
"It was starting to buckle because of the rain," she said.
As he examined the wall and the hole, Ferguson said it appeared water got behind the bricks. The water froze and thawed over the years, compromising the stability of the wall.
Electric and gas utilities to the home were cut.
Ferguson estimated the home was likely built in the late 1800s or early 1900s.
According to York County tax records, it is owned by Carlos Wright and is assessed at $17,840.
Inspection: City officials were at the scene Sunday night to inspect the home and determine how to proceed with the damage.
A structural engineer was to inspect the home, said Steve Buffington, the city's building-code official.
The hole could be repaired, Ferguson said, but it would be a costly effort.
Officials could determine that the home has to be torn down, but that poses some problems since it is attached to the adjoining 41 Columbia Ave. home. A horsehair plaster wall is all that separates the two houses, Buffington said.
If the home is torn down, a brick wall would have to be built, he said.
Luckily, Buffington said, no one was home at the time of the collapse.
"If they'd have been in the kitchen, they'd have been hurt," he said.
- Reach Greg Gross at email@example.com.