ATLANTIC CITY — The roof of a former furniture store on Atlantic Avenue collapsed Saturday afternoon, shutting down traffic in both directions for hours as firefighters worked to stabilize the now-vacant building.

Rain water that had accumulated in the structure over years deteriorated the ceiling and floor, leading to a cave-in Saturday, said Scott Evans, Atlantic City’s deputy fire chief.

At the scene, the top wall was leaning onto the sidewalk and bricks littered the ground, Evans said.

The building, at 915 Atlantic Ave., was empty at the time of the incident and is currently listed for sale with Keller Williams Realty in Ocean City. It does not appear on the city’s 2015 abandoned properties list, but a number of boarded-up structure adjacent to it do.

“It collapsed due to what we suspect was a lack of maintenance. Rain water got trapped in the building and weakened the structure,” Evans said.

In the past two years, there have been at least four fires and collapses at vacant buildings on that stretch of shops, Evans said, part of what has become a growing, city-wide issue.

Abandoned properties not only contribute to blight, but are more vulnerable to fires and break-ins and thus pose a risk to nearby residents, Evans said.

A few doors down from the site of Saturday’s incident, the roof of another vacant building collapsed last spring, displacing six children and three adults living in an adjacent home.

The abandoned three-story structure was eventually demolished by the city.

“That area in general is a problem,” Evans said. “That strip of stores ... these vacant buildings are a danger to the public.”

The building has been owned by Philadelphia-based C R Property Ventures LLC since 2015, according to property records.

It was once a furniture store, Mrs. B’s Furniture Outlet, run by a local family.

The current owner could not be reached.

Evans said the city declared the property an “eminent hazard” after the collapse and deemed it unsafe to enter.

Contact: 609-272-7258 azoppo@pressofac.com Twitter @AvalonZoppo

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