ST. LOUIS — The second floor of a longtime furniture and appliance store on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive collapsed Friday while people were inside the north St. Louis shop.
The business, Dorothy’s TV Appliance & Furniture, at 5917 Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, was open with several employees inside when the second floor of the building gave way, according to witnesses and the St. Louis Fire Department. No one was injured.
Leland Vasser has worked at the shop for 13 years and said he was near the back office when the second floor and roof collapsed.
“We heard this big boom and just got out of there,” Vasser said. The first-floor ceiling did not cave in, so the appliances and furniture in the shop were not damaged and the four or five employees inside were able to get out safely, Vasser said.
The roof fell and the second-floor facade crumbled onto the sidewalk in front of the business where some appliances and furniture were on display outside.
Vasser said the collapse came just a few days after parts of the brickwork on the second floor crumbled and fell onto the sidewalk.
Don DeVivo, executive director of the Wellston Loop Community Development Corp., visited the scene Friday and said that concerns about the building were raised at a meeting of the CDC after the first bricks fell.
DeVivo said city crews came out to inspect the damage a few days before the collapse, but the business continued to operate.
“We were afraid this was going to happen,” he said.
St. Louis Building Commissioner Frank Oswald said Friday that the building was condemned on Tuesday after the bricks fells, and the city sent a letter to the building owners in July pointing out issues with the structure.
The shop inside the building, Dorothy’s TV, has been operated by Chester Davis and Dorothy Tripp on the street for more than 35 years.
Tripp said Friday that she was glad everyone got out safe.
The collapse marks the third building to fall in the city this week.
A building in the old Lemp Brewery complex also partially collapsed. No one was injured when parts of the six-story brick building at 18th and Cherokee streets fell about 9 a.m. Sunday.
The building was in use storing at least 700 bicycles owned by St. Louis Bicycle Works, a nonprofit that educates kids about bikes and gives free bicycles to each child at the end of the program.
Building Commissioner Oswald said the building had been condemned since 2013 and shouldn’t have been used for storage.
A church in the city’s Vandeventer neighborhood collapsed Wednesday. No one was inside it at the time.
The two-story church, Gospel Lighthouse Church of God, is in the 4300 block of Cook Avenue.
A city building inspector at the scene told the Post-Dispatch the collapse was likely caused by water buildup that originated from a roof leak, but the city was still evaluating.
The pastor, David Lee Jones, was also at the scene and said he was uncertain about what caused the collapse. Jones said he hasn’t held any services in the building due to the coronavirus pandemic, and he was unsure how the church would move forward.
Building Commissioner Oswald said Friday that weather could be causing the series of collapses this week.
“When you have bricks expanding when there is a cold spell followed by really warm weather this can happen,” Oswald said. “The bricks go through expansion cycles. The same thing can happen in the winter. Moisture can get between these bricks and cause problems.”