Two homes collapse in Germantown

Emergency crews were on the scene of a house collapse in the city's Germantown neighborhood.

The collapse occurred shortly before 8:00 a.m. Tuesday on the 4600 block of Germantown Avenue and Aspley Street.

The twin-home Denise Wheele rented with her daughter and three young grandsons on the 4600 block of Germantown Avenue had collapsed.

All of her belongings were buried in the rubble and FOX 29's Bruce Gordon had asked her if there was anything in particular she was anxious to retrieve.

"That bible brought me through 14 years of trouble," she told FOX 29. "That bible means more to me than this house."

Wheeler says recent Philadelphia Water Department work behind the homes had caused cracks in her wall.
Over the weekend, the cracks grew, and by Tuesday morning, it was clear her home was in danger of collapse.

She called the fire department and crews quickly arrived, inspected the cracks and ordered everyone out.

Forty-five minutes later, the two homes (the other was empty) crumbled to the ground. City officials said it was too early to say whether that utility work had caused the collapse, which they believe was linked to cracks in the foundation.

But the commissioner of the city's Department of License & Inspections praised Denise's quick action.

"She recognized the danger, she took action, the fire department came and fortunately we have a relatively happy ending to this story," said Dave Perri.

The demolition crew plucked from the wreckage a portable child's playpen. Stuffed inside were clothes and other belongings, including-- more or less unscathed-- the family bible.

"God is good!" she yelled while holding the Good Book aloft. "I got my bible!"
Wheeler's landlord has found the family temporary lodging, but Denise is just happy everyone got out safely.

I asked her, as she thumbed through her well-worn bible, for a favorite verse.

She didn't miss a beat.

"The Lord is my shepherd, she beamed, " I shall not want."