By Betty Lawrence
Celina residents in two condominiums on Settlers Lane had the daylights scared out of them Wednesday afternoon when a concrete block wall at a nearby business came crashing down, raining concrete and debris on their homes.
The 180-by-30-foot wall on the north side of the Celina Moving and Storage warehouse collapsed around 1 p.m. The 40,000-square-foot facility at 1901 Industrial Drive was built in 1994.
The damaged condos (four homes) are located just 30 feet behind the warehouse. Damage to the homes ranged from moderate to severe, with patio doors shattered and walls caved in.
No cause has been determined, but high winds may be a possibility.
Luckily, there were no injuries -- just frightened residents. Pat Hay, of 1726 Settlers Lane, called 911 after she realized what had happened.
"I heard a roar, looked up and saw it (concrete block wall) coming down. I let out a scream and ran in the opposite direction," Hay said late Wednesday afternoon. "My God, it's gone. I never dreamt something like this could happen."
She recently brought in her patio furniture, which saved it from being destroyed by the falling brick.
Leo Koesters, who lives in the duplex beside Hay, was not at home when the wall fell. He returned to find the south wall of his home pushed in 6-8 inches, which cracked the drywall and damaged the kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom.
Koesters' sliding patio door was demolished and broken glass filled the adjoining kitchen. A piece of block had bored through the shower stall in his bathroom, where the ceiling light fixture was knocked out and dangled from the wiring.
"I'll still spend the night here. It's still home," he simply said.
At the duplex next door, Gerald and Romaine Hoyng and Annie Hierholzer were mystified and shaken as they surveyed the damage to their homes.
"We were gone and when we came home, saw the fire trucks at our home. The first thing we thought was that something had caught on fire," Gerald Hoyng said as he began sweeping up the shattered glass from the patio doors.
Large hunks of concrete block littered the couple's kitchen floor, along with the glass that flew all the way into the center of the home.
Romaine Hoyng carefully picked up the broken religious figurine that was a wedding gift 52 years ago.
"This was hanging on the kitchen wall, and I have been so careful with it. Now, it takes a wall to break it," she said.
The south wall of their home was damaged, as was Hierholzer's.
"I was home and I heard it," Hierholzer said. "I thought we were having an earthquake. It made such a crash. I went outside, screaming."
Her patio door was demolished and shards of glass littered her dining area.
While the homeowners, their insurance adjustors and family members began assessing the damage, Celina firemen moved the broken block away from the homes. Celina Moving employees started moving stored contents from the now-open warehouse to a secure location.
The warehouse was constructed by Wortman Brothers, Inc., Van Wert, and representatives from the company were called to the scene after the collapse, along with insurance company representatives.
Wortman officials were unavailable for comment this morning.
"The building was state inspected when it was built, and right now, we have no idea why the wall fell," Celina Moving and Storage owner Randy Leistner said the morning.
"I am baffled," said Gordon Leistner, who owns the building. "The wall was built in 1994, and right now, we really don't know what caused the wall to fall."
A news release from the Celina Police Department said the collapse appears to be related to high winds, but the official cause has not been determined.
According to a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, westerly wind gusts peaked at 41 miles per hour in the area surrounding Dayton on Wednesday.
Damage estimates to the storage building and homes have not been determined yet. Damage to contents of the storage building were reported minimal.
Celina Moving is owned by Randy Leistner and Rob Kraner, who rent space in the storage building from L & L Distribution, owned by Gordon and Randy Leistner.