Contractor behind collapse of Fishtown home will soon have license revoked

Since the Star’s most recent report on the family’s situation, a city-contracted, certified demolition contractor has cleared debris from the location and L&I has completed an onsite investigation.

94-year-old Clovena Klenk’s Fishtown rowhome was reduced to rubble after an alleged contractor error compromised the house’s foundation.

Philadelphia’s department of Licenses and Inspections has begun the process to revoke the contractor’s license held by Q Construction, the contractor of record said to be responsible for the collapse of 633 and 635 E. Thompson St. in Fishtown early last month. Since the Star’s most recent report on the family’s situation, a city-contracted, certified demolition contractor has cleared debris from the location and L&I has completed an onsite investigation.

The involvement of another contractor has been alleged. Although L&I does not have sufficient grounds at this time to take action against the other contractor, that possibility remains open.

“The abject failure in this case to follow safe building practices and precautions endangered lives and destroyed property,” said L&I spokeswoman Karen Guss. “L&I has referred the matter to the Office of District Attorney Lawrence Krasner.”

Q Construction was working on the foundation of 633 E. Thompson St., a house that was vacant, at the time the house collapsed. According to Guss, the contractor undermined the weight-bearing wall shared between 633 and 635, the latter of which was owned and lived in by 94-year-old Clovena Klenk. Her adult children, Roger and Nancy, lived in the house with her.

“It’s completely fair to say he exceeded the permit or he was doing the work without the proper permit,” said Guss.

L&I went on to deem the property imminently dangerous, and ordered it torn down that weekend.

According to Clovena’s daughter, Karen Klenk, the Klenk’s insurance company put Clovena in temporary housing in a location that’s handicap accessible (Clovena uses a wheelchair). Before the house was torn down, the demolition company allowed the family to quickly re-enter the building to fetch Clovena’s wheelchair, walker, medication, her late husband’s military flag, tax records and various sentimental photographs. Other than that, not much made it out of the house.

Since the demolition, the family has spent time rummaging through the remains of their demolished house, searching for whatever they can find. So far, they’ve found nothing but clothes, some photographs and other random trinkets.

“We’re pretty resigned to the fact that there’s not going to be much left,” said family member Jen Romaniw.

Clovena and her late husband first moved to the house in 1957 and raised 10 kids who all, at one point, lived there, according to Karen Klenk.