Steelton officials search for owners of collapsed church - abc27 WHTM

Steelton officials search for owners of collapsed church

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Donna Thumma saw her Steelton home for the first time since a church building partially collapsed on it Saturday night.

Thumma was on vacation when she heard her townhouse was damaged by part of the former Grace United Evangelical Church. She and her next-door neighbor have been forced out.

"It's an inconvenience because now I have to find a place to live," Thumma said. "My parents are probably going to let me stay there for a couple days, but I don't want it to be a long time because that's a big inconvenience for them."

The collapse has many asking who's to blame? Mayor Tom Acri said naturally the fingers point at local government.

Acri said the property has been cited several times for codes violations. For three years, former church members paid the fines. Acri said borough officials did what the law instructs them to do only to get burned.

"Our fire department tries to do something about it, our codes office tries to do something about it, and then you gotta go through a hundred different steps to get there to do something, and in the meantime that happens," Acri said. Now who's at fault? The borough's at fault? That's not true, but that's what happens."

Acri said he can only prevent a further collapse or injury. Fire police are monitoring the 200 block of Lincoln Street which is taped off and blocked to traffic.

"We gotta worry about the kids," Acri said. "The children are now out of school. There's many children up here, so we gotta make sure our children are going to be safe."

The mayor said the building owners can't be found and that is posing a problem to go ahead with demolition. It is believed the original owners named on the property documents are deceased, but Acri said he hopes to have the church demolished within the next few days.

Thumma hopes that is the case, as well. After all, there is nothing like sleeping in your own bed, she said.

"I'm hoping it gets done quick and (Steelton Borough) will step up and just take care of it," she said.

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