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Family escapes as house partially collapses

January 28, 2010 12:52:38 AM PST
Four members of a Los Angeles family are homeless after a portion of their home collapsed on Wednesday night in the Mid-City area. Residents said they heard cracking and creaking at about 10:30 p.m., giving them a cue that something was awry with the home at 1833 South Longwood Avenue.

"I heard another crack, and then I heard a boom, and I just run to the door," said resident Lovelle Starks. "It sounded like something on the roof so we go outside, I look but the roof was OK. So when I walked back up on the porch, I see how my porch is and it was separated from my house. And then I yelled to everybody, 'Get out! Get out! The house is about to fall.'"

Sparks said he was trying to lead his family to safety, but the front door was jammed.

"They had to go through the back, and then basically, everybody got out safely," Starks said.

The roof on the right side of the house sloped down over the porch, and the porch slightly caved in and went over the front door, making it difficult for residents to leave.

The house is now leaning to one side, there's a large gap between the house and the porch, and the water heater that was next to the home is partially under it.

The Los Angeles City Fire Department responded to the scene and said the family was able to evacuate safely. It's unknown what caused the house to give way.

"It's really bad and I thank God that we got out," said renter Lavette Maiden.

The house has been red-tagged, which means the family can't live there for the time being and they cannot get their belongings out from inside. In the meantime, they are trying to see if the Red Cross can help them find shelter and they're considering getting legal advice.

Ann and Jerry Saltsman, who have owned the house for about 35 years, said it is under Section 8 and is inspected roughly every nine months.

"Well as you can see the house has been kept up," said Jerry Saltsman.

"Yeah the structure, everything, seems to be fine, it's just something made it drop and nobody seems to know why at this time," his wife added.

However, Starks said when the cable company set up their service, the technician commented on the condition of the home.

"The cable guy, he had to go into the house and he noticed that the little beams under that hold the foundation up, he noticed that they were kind of slanted and it was kind of old," said Starks.

Inspectors will be at the house on Thursday to assess the damage.