Damaged French Quarter building completely collapses

Published: Oct. 21, 2014 at 9:32 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 22, 2014 at 8:43 PM CDT
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Firefighters and building inspectors spent the last 24 hours monitoring the situation on Royal Street after the left side of the building came down causing a gas leak and a water leak.

Entergy was forced to rip off the parts of street to cut off the gas. Then around 1 p.m. on Wednesday, people in the area describe hearing loud cracking noises before the rest of the building fell.

Smoke filled the air and bricks and debris now cover the street. The 800 block of Royal Street was an apartment building that was being rented by one family.

FOX 8 was not able to reach the family.

This building was more than 200 years old and people who live and work in the area described it as needing repairs for a long time. They said it was not maintained. Eight families that lived in an adjacent building are being forced to find another place to stay.

One woman who says she lived next door is very upset because while she is having to find another place tonight her dogs are now trapped in the apartment.

"So now we really cannot get in to get our dogs. Which someone has to do something we have to get our dogs and to get the rest of our stuff, close up and just go stay in a hotel room for tonight," neighbor Sherry Dooley said. "I took for granted that there were inspections of these older buildings cause they are older and a lot of these balconies look very dangerous and I just assumed the city would not allow things to decay but how does a building just fall without the city having any knowledge. It doesn't make sense to me."

The Vieux Carre Commission does have an inspector who is only responsible for looking at the exterior of buildings in the French Quarter. In 2011, the building's owner was cited for what is called minor demolition by neglect, which means some repairs are needed.

Right now, there is no explanation as to what exactly caused the collapse.

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