Investigation Continues in Weekend Fatal Fire Escape Collapse

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The investigation continues tonight in the fire escape collapse that killed one person and injured two others in Rittenhouse Square (See Related Story).

It happened at an apartment at 2100 block of Locust Street in Center City.

CBS 3’s Syma Chowdhry confronts a man whose family owns the building.

“I’m very sorry. An unfortunate incident happened. We all are very sad,” Reza Khorram said.

Reza Khorram does not own the John C. Bell building, but his family does.

Khorram, his lawyer and an engineer examined what’s left of the fire escape.

Early Sunday morning during a party, three people went to the fire escape on the fourth floor to smoke.

That’s when it collapsed, killing 22-year-old Albert Suh and injuring two women.

They both suffered broken backs.

The women are residents.

Suh’s home address is listed in north New Jersey, although his name is on the buzzer.

L & I officials have cited the owners, but deem it safe for other residents (See Related Story).

“You can talk to my attorney, I cannot talk I’m sorry,” Khorram said.

The Khorram Group’s attorney talked off camera and says the engineer’s assessment will be reviewed by L & I officials.

“I couldn’t sleep for the last two nights, I feel so bad these people,” neighbor Jeremy Thompson said.

Neighbors say landlords who don’t live on site should be aware of problems.

“Take care of it like you would take care of your own house. Would you want to live in a building where the fire escape is not safe?” Thompson said.

Neighbors say younger tenants may not be aware of what’s considered unsafe.

“To say that any of these early 20-year-olds that were attending a party late at night would have the wherewithal to know that they were stepping out on something that’s not safe is completely wrong. You can’t blame the victims,” a neighbor said.

L & I officials say they only inspect fire escapes when a complaint is made. If you are a concerned resident, you are required to notify the property owners first before calling 311.

As for any prior violations, city officials tell CBS 3 the property owner was cited back in 2012 for not having a proper annual rental license, but that issue was fixed immediately after receiving that citation.

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