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High winds collapse vacant buildings

Posted at 1:21 PM, Apr 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-04 05:57:27-04

The calls were coming in all night.  One vacant row house after another in West Baltimore crumbling with the intense winds.  Bricks, wood and cinder blocks from the collapsing walls covered streets and sidewalks.  Some cars even crushed by the debris.    

Baltimore housing officials say, in all, seven properties were condemned, and three of them needed to be torn down Sunday.  We're told crews rarely see this many collapses in one night. 

The destruction happened as wind gusts reached 54-miles-per-hour in the area.

"I did hear a loud boom, but I didn't realize what it was, I just thought that the wind had knocked something around,” said Nikki Davis.  “Then when I came out this morning and saw all of the bricks and stuff on the ground I'm glad I wasn’t parked over there cuz that's where I usually park at on Sunday mornings."

On North Fulton Avenue, the damage was so severe an emergency demolition was needed for two abandoned homes.  City crews worked to safely tear the neglected, aging properties down.

“This is scary because we have children who walk down here daily, and if the house would have fell or the brick would have fell during any of their time going to school, oh lord," Emim Bey said.

People who live nearby say it's frightening.

RELATED: Police identify man who died after building collapsed on his car

Abandoned properties are common in the neighborhood.

"We have a little over 300 vacant homes and most of them are in the same condition, most of these houses are a little bit older than 100-years-old and they have been basically left, no roofs being repaired," President of the Matthew Henson Neighborhood Association, Dr. Marvin ‘Doc’ Cheatham, said.

He calls it a big problem, and a dangerous one.

People think the city needs to step up.

"I think that they should all be torn down or redone or rehabbed,” said Davis.  “I think that the city of Baltimore needs to do something about that because it leads to rats, and things like this occur."

There are about 16,000 vacant buildings in the city.      

This time, no one was hurt when the wind toppled the walls.  Last Monday, 69-year-old Thomas lemon wasn't as lucky.  He was sitting in his car on North Payson Street when a row house collapsed onto the car, killing him.

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