TOLEDO — Toledo Police said a building at 119 West High Street partially collapsed late Monday night. Police said in a news release part of the building’s west wall and roof had collapsed into an adjacent alley. Fire Chief Joe Boll said four people were inside the building when it fell down, but made it out safely. People living in the building next door were evacuated as a precaution.
Rodney Karaghan, who lives with his mother next door to 119, thought it was thunder.
“We heard a big crash. My mom and I were very scared and we didn’t know what it was,” Karaghan said.
According to the city clerk’s office, 119 West High St. is zoned as a business, and Chief Boll said he had heard complaints four people inside were living there. However, he said further investigation revealed that was not the case.
“It is our understanding that the police chief looked into this matter last week, and that no one was living in the building,” Boll said.
However, others who spoke with TV9 said they had lingering questions about what was being done about the building’s structural integrity. Boll, who is also on the city council, said the state of aging buildings in downtown is a growing concern.
Sue Micllef, who owns the building next to 119, had noticed the side of the building facing the alley bowing in the past. She’s involved with a committee to beautify downtown.
“I think the key is working one-on-one with the building owners,” Micllef said. “I’ve talked to each of them personally when I started this in the beginning of summer, and I’ve only found two or three that really weren’t interested in their buildings.”
However, Micllef said renovating more than century-old buildings takes money and know-how, two missing elements she believes led to this collapse.
Chief Boll said the city is making plans to apply for a DNR grant next year to remodel dilapidated buildings in the downtown district. A few people we spoke with say they’d recently shared their concerns about the safety of 119 West High St. with the council and mayor. However, the mayor said he had no comment on any questions regarding the structural integrity of that property, until an investigation by the State Fire Marshal is complete.