MAHANOY CITY -- Emergency crews shut down several streets in Mahanoy City over concerns that a building may collapse.
Authorities are concerned about the old Kaier Brewery along North Main Street.
Demolition was supposed to start soon on the building in Schuylkill County, but instead, it started to come down on its own.
A six-block area of Mahanoy City is now off limits.
Crews were bringing in equipment, preparing to start demolition on the old building when bricks started to fall around noon Tuesday.
“It started to list so everybody backed out and we created a 300-foot perimeter so that nobody can get in,” said Lt. Dave Truskowsky, the Mahanoy City Fire Department’s Public Safety Officer.
The building on North Main Street has been vacant since 1967, and after receiving grant money, Mahanoy City was ready to take it down.
"I came around the corner down by the high rise and saw bricks and stuff falling out," said borough council member Louis Huber.
Emergency crews and PPL have been on the scene since noon. They evacuated a six-block area surrounding the building, forcing 12 people out of their homes. No one is allowed back in.
One of those people is Bob Brennan who has lived in Mahanoy City for 70 years.
"We were sitting on the couch watching TV and we have security cameras and saw all the commotion and saw the building twisting and turning," said Brennan.
The empty building is supposed to be transformed into a community park as part of Mahanoy City's "Central Business District and Streetscape Revitalization" program.
Huber said funds got tied up at the state level.
"Whatever, it was got tied up and this is what we got now a mess, a big mess."
Amanda Schuetrum's child was one of those evacuated from the day care across the street and taken to a nearby high-rise. She says it's time for the building to come down.
"They need to knock it down. It needs to be knocked down. That's about it," she said.
First responders tell Newswatch 16 they are still waiting for the demolition crew to arrive to determine how they will take down the building.
There is no timetable for when it could come down or how long people will be displaced but officials hope it happens by Wednesday.
There is no word from authorities on what may have caused the building to begin to crumble.
The borough has been trying to use grant money to demolish the old building.
All the excitement brought out plenty of people to look at the building.
“Well my sister works at Rite Aid so she called me to take some pictures because she's working,” said Sue Zimmerman. “But I said once it hits the four o`clock news, everybody`s coming out now.”
“This is the building that they`re about to tear down, that`s falling down today,” said Paul Coombe, showing old photographs of the Kaiser Brewery, built in 1937.
Coombe is with the Mahanoy Area Historical Society and was hanging those old photos of the brewery that were printed as posters on the society`s front windows, something he hadn`t planned on doing.
“I have a number of posters that I was going to put in a display here inside the historical room,” said Coombe. “But I decided since there`s interest today because of what`s happening today on the news I would put the poster of the window.”
The Red Cross says 20 people are affected by the evacuation.
It is helping 8 families find places to stay until they can return home.