FISHTOWN (FOX 29) - One Fishtown family says their neighbor's shoddy construction is the reason they lost their home of 60 years.
Incredible is one word to describe how it ended, with more than 60 years of memories gone, in a cloud of dust and debris.
Friday, 94-year-old Clovena Klenk, wheelchair bound with dementia, was at home with two of her children and a healthcare aid. Son Jim Klenk explained the events leading to the house collapse.
"They said it felt like an earthquake. The whole house shook. And, the wall sank. My brother ripped out the front door, and they helped get my mother out of the house," Jim Klenk stated.
Within moments, there were cracks throughout the home.
"There's a crack a good 4 to 5 inches in the retaining wall between the two properties going up the length of the wall," Jim added.
City of Philadelphia Licenses and Inspections confirmed licensed contractors were renovating the basement of the unoccupied adjoining home, but did not appear to have the permits for the complex work they were doing on the retaining wall.
Tearing apart the foundation, the entire building began to buckle.
Engineers determined not much was holding the house up and the best option was to tear it down, giving the family minutes to collect what they could, before the house came down.
"It's mementos. It goes back 70 years. My father was a World War II veteran and he had memorabilia from World War II in the basement. And, all that is lost," Jim stated.
Shawn Klenk's father passed away just over a year ago. He and his brother say someone must be held accountable.
"People need to be protected against things like this," added Jim.
"Willful negligence and you put people in danger. There were four people in the house at the time and walls are cracking and they had to force the doors open to get my mother out of the house," Shawn Klenk explained.
"It's gonna continue to happen unless somebody ends up in handcuffs or in prison," Jim said.