Three people in Anamosa narrowly escaped a mishap while a contractor was tearing down a condemned brick building complex on the town’s main street Tuesday. Police Chief Richard Stivers says the complex housed three businesses. He says the buildings are pretty much attached to each other, and being made of soft old-style brick the walls were cracking and becoming a danger. Chief Stivers says they didn’t need to use dynamite on the crumbling old building. He says a backhoe was used to grab parts of the building and literally tear it apart, and he describes the walls as being so deteriorated, it was like the mortar between the bricks “wasn’t even there.” Because the old buildings were less than 20 feet across an alley from another building where people lived, the chief went first thing in the morning to tell those tenants to leave while the demolition was going on. But Stivers says the woman told him, despite his warning, she intended to go back to bed, and he had no power to force her to leave. The crumbling walls dumped a load of bricks that fell against the neighboring building, knocking off a walkway that was the only entry to the apartments, and trapping those neighbors in their apartment until a fire department ladder truck came to evacuate the startled tenants. Stivers says the fire chief went up the ladder himself and found people waiting to be rescued, and he says with a chuckle that the woman admitted she should have listened to his warning to leave. The 20-year-old woman, her 19-year-old boyfriend, and her four-year-old son all escaped safely. Susie Q’s bar is also located in the damaged building, and the bar will be closed for awhile.
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