Cause undetermined in Fayette County apartment building collapse

August 6, 2018

Section of the apartment building on South Vernon Avenue, South Union Township, that collapsed on Tuesday afternoon.

The cause of an apartment building collapse that trapped five people Tuesday near Uniontown remains undetermined, a township official said.

Representatives from K-2 Engineering Inc. of Uniontown, which serves as the township’s engineering firm, returned Wednesday to inspect the nine-unit brick building on South Mt. Vernon Avenue a day after a section broke away during a rain storm, South Union Supervisor Bob Schiffbauer said.

“There is not a direct cause that can be identified,” he said.

John Over, owner of K-2 Engineering, said it would be up to the property owner’s insurance company to determine the cause of the collapse.

The owner of the building, Christine Shock, could not be reached for comment. Shock was at the property when part of the building collapsed around 3:40 p.m. Tuesday.

Schiffbauer said there have been problems in that area with surface water runoff during storms, but he did not know if that might have been a contributing factor. About 40 feet of the left side of the brick building collapsed during the storm.

Five people who were inside the apartment building were rescued.

A man on a first floor apartment was trapped by debris and was taken to Uniontown Hospital for treatment. His wife was able to get out, said South Union Fire Chief Rick McCormick. She also was treated at the hospital.

Firefighters used ladders and ropes to rescue three people stranded on the second floor because of a collapsed stairwell, McCormick said.

Township officials on Tuesday night condemned the building. Residents were not permitted inside to retrieve their belongings. The fire chief said about 15 people lived in the building.

It likely will be up to Shock to have the building demolished, Schiffbauer said.

The American Red Cross is assisting five residents with food, clothing and shelter needs, said Rebecca Gaidrich, disaster program manager for the Chestnut Ridge Chapter based in Greensburg.

Update hourly