X Marks Dangerously Dilapidated Buildings in Shamokin

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SHAMOKIN -- There are dozens of dilapidated properties in Shamokin, and now, many of them will be marked with a big white X on a red background.

"That whole roof is caved in. It's falling in on the inside. If you look at that ceiling sticking out, you can see it's leaning inwards," said Michael Knowles of Shamokin.

With the doors and windows boarded up, no one is allowed inside unless there's an emergency.

"When you get in there, you can't see. It's dark and some covered and you find a hole in the floor that you weren't expecting. It adds a whole new element to it," said public safety director John Brown.

Working to put out flames inside dilapidated buildings has become so unsafe the city and fire chief decided to do something about it. Now, over 20 rundown buildings in Shamokin are flagged with an X. Those big white X's mean no one is allowed inside, even emergency crews.

"Despite the fact that it's on fire, that it's burning, no one can go inside the building," said city administrator Robert Slaby.

"Unless there is some life safety issue we know for certain we have to go," Brown said.

People who live in buildings like this say they are concerned about the safety of firefighters, but they're also worried the buildings could just collapse on their own.

"I wouldn't go in it," Brown said. "What happens if they are walking through and fall through the second floor? You never know."

The X's are also a way for the city to keep track of the unsafe properties.

City officials tell Newswatch 16 a codes officer will be visiting these sites regularly and issuing citations for the problems.

"We keep putting band-aids on," Slaby said. "There just is not enough money to keep tearing these down."

Anyone who knows of a blighted property that could be unsafe for emergency workers to enter should call Shamokin City Hall.


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