Steelton officials trying to figure out what to do about church collapse

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Steelton’s mayor and other borough officials returned to the scene of a church collapse Sunday to try to figure out how to get the building torn down and determine who’s responsible for the vacant building.

Saturday night’s partial collapse of the old Grace United Evangelical Church didn’t injure anyone, but it damaged a duplex next door. The Red Cross is helping the people displaced from their homes.

“The biggest thing is we’ve got to get that building down,” said Mayor Tom Acri. “It’s just not safe to have that building up, especially with all our children out of school.”

The 200 block of Lincoln Street is closed and being monitored by fire police.

Acri said asbestos was discovered in the building. He said that has to be removed before the building can be demolished. The mayor said codes enforcers had been trying to get in touch with the church’s owner recently about concerns related to the building.

However, Acri said Sunday borough officials have learned the owner passed away a few years ago. The mayor said he’s uncertain who has responsibility for the church.

“I can tell you this right now the borough won’t be able to afford to foot the bill for this (demolition),” said Acri. “We knew that they needed a new roof, but nobody knew that the building was that weak.”

Acri said it’s unclear if criminal charges will be filed against anyone in connection with the collapse.