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September 24, 2018

Vacant Church Building Collapses In Port City


The vacant St. Louis Church building partially collapsed Sunday afternoon.

The vacant St. Louis Church building partially collapsed Sunday afternoon.

OSWEFO, NY – East Bridge Street, near vacant St. Louis Church remains closed to traffic following the collapse of the building’s north wall late this afternoon (July 25).

At about 4:56 p.m. a building collapse, at East Fourth Street and State Route 104 East Bridge Street) was reported.

No injuries were reported.

The Harborfest venue at East Park was closed and evacuated due to its close proximity to the church.

Traffic has been detoured to Utica Street.

According to city police, traffic should avoid State Route 104 on the east side of the city of Oswego if possible.

That area of State Route 104 expected to be closed for undetermined amount of time.

“I heard a muffled sound. But with the band going I didn’t think anything of it until I heard sirens,” said Judy McCabe who lives around the corner on East Fifth Street.

One of her students thought she might be working at the Renaissance Fair in Sterling and called her.

A view of the building showing the church's tilting steeple. The photo was provided by Brenda Earl.

A view of the building showing the church's tilting steeple. The photo was provided by Brenda Earl.

“He said don’t come home (on 104), you won’t be able to get to your house. And, he sent me the picture and I went, ‘oh my God!’” she said. “From what I’m hearing, no one was hurt and that’s a good thing. The sad part is different churches in the area wanted to save the stained glass windows out of St. Louis and they couldn’t.”

Morgan Thompson was in East Park when the building collapsed.

“Chocolate Thunder had just gotten off the stage and all of a sudden you heard this noise that sounded like cars just piling up or something,” she told Oswego County Today.com “I turned just in time to watch all the bricks and stuff falling into the road and this huge plume of smoke came up.”

“There were four people on the sidewalk over here that ran across the street just as it was falling. They were all covered in dirt and soot,” she added. “There was an older gentleman that was sitting in his truck in the parking lot (next to the church); he got taken away in an ambulance. I don’t think anything hit him. But he was probably in shock.”

It’s amazing that nobody was driving by at that time and the four people got out of the way OK, she said.

“These aren’t the kind of things that happen to you in Oswego. These are the kind of things you read about happening somewhere else,” Thompson said. “They cleared everybody out of the park because they’re afraid the steeple’s going to cave right in, too.”

Piles of debris can be seen clogging East Bridge Street following Sunday's collapse of St. Louis Church.

Piles of debris can be seen clogging East Bridge Street following Sunday's collapse of St. Louis Church.

Some people were running right up to the rubble to see if anyone was injured while others were screaming at them to get away, she added.

“If someone was under there, I’d have been over there helping pull them out, too,” she said. You hope no one was under there.”

Heavy machinery was called in raze the remaining parts of the church that are not stable.

Crews will be working through the night to clear East Bridge Street for Monday morning’s commute.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area until the rubble is cleared.

Check back later for updates.

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