House collapse forces family to find shelter

Workers were building a new basement under a house on South Howard Street in Moscow when it collapsed into the hole. No one was injured in the collapse, according to Moscow Fire Chief Brian Nickerson.

Justin Goodwin, Moscow building official and fire battalion chief, was sitting in his office Tuesday when the terms “structural collapse” sounded on his radio.

“My first thought was is we’ve got somebody trapped,” Goodwin said.

He said a construction crew was working under a house — located on South Howard Street near East First Street — when the workers noticed the structure started to move and crack, so they scrambled from the home before it collapsed.

“Once we got there and found that no one was physically underneath the building, it was kind of a relief,” Goodwin said. “It’s a sad relielf, but it was a relief of, ‘OK, we don’t got anybody trapped. Now we can move forward with the structural portion of it.’ ”

The married couple and their six children who lived at the home were not at the scene when the disaster struck.

A representative of Moscow’s Trinity Reformed Church said the family, which attends the church, has a place to stay for the next two weeks and church leaders are trying to help them find another place to stay after that period. He said it is likely the family will be able to find a temporary place to live with one of the church members.

A statement from Anderson Family Construction LLC, the local contractor working on the house, read: “This was a horrible accident. Thankfully, no one was hurt. We are currently working closely with the owners, the insurance adjusters, and engineers to figure out the next steps and to retrieve as many of the owners’ belongings as possible. We would ask for everyone’s prayers that the insurance process would go smoothly and that the owners would be able to begin rebuilding soon.”

Goodwin said AFC crews were jacking the house up Tuesday when the house started to move and eventually fall down. He said the house was about 10 feet in the air before it collapsed.

In 15 years working for the city, Goodwin said he has not seen a house collapse on a new basement. He said a basement existed at the house, but workers lifted the home to put in a new basement with a higher ceiling.

“Out of all the ones that I’ve inspected, this I’d say is the first one that I’ve seen fail,” Goodwin said.

He said houses are not commonly raised in Moscow. Around two homes are lifted per year or as few as one in three years, Goodwin said.

He said it is expensive to raise a house and it is typically only done to replace a failing foundation.

The house is a total loss, Goodwin said, and it will be demolished after insurance adjusters evaluate it.

After a structural engineer determined how to stabilize the home, AFC crews removed personal items from the home for the family, Goodwin said.

He said he assumed some personal items will be lost during the demolition because crews may not be able to retrieve belongings from certain parts of the house.

Garrett Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to

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