Highlands house being raised falls off lifts onto adjacent house; both homes destroyed

A two-story house in Highlands that was being raised tipped over on Friday, landing on top of the house next door. (8/23/13)

HIGHLANDS - A two-story house in Highlands that was being raised tipped over on Friday, landing on top of the house next door.

No one was injured because the family who lives at the home on Locust Street is on vacation, but officials say both homes needed to be demolished for safety reasons. The home fell off the cribbing that was holding it up shortly before 11 a.m. At 3:30 p.m., crews began tearing it down, with the family's possessions still inside.

The house is owned by a family currently vacationing in Florida. They are on the way back to New Jersey after hearing about what happened.

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Neighbors say one of the owners is in construction, and helped out people in his community after Sandy. "He was like our parents' angel," says Jennifer Plaia. "He was there for us."

Township engineer Dale Leubner says officials are trying to figure out what caused the home to shift. "It's too unstable to allow anybody inside, unfortunately," he says. "I feel really bad. I know the owner. I feel bad for him and his family."

The bungalow next door had been abandoned since before Sandy and has also been demolished.

Officials say the house fell to the left, avoiding neighbors to the rear who just finished elevating their home.

The crew from Hasenfus Construction, based out of Massachusetts, left the scene after the collapse. News 12 New Jersey reached out to the owner, Steve Hasenfus, but he did not comment.

Twelve other homes in Highlands have been elevated without any issues.
 

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