(David L. Ryan/Globe Staff)
CHELSEA -- An elderly woman was rushed from her home by emergency workers today after the roof of a neighboring building collapsed, rattling the woman's nerves and her kitchenware.
Patrick Sweeney, 21, said outside the Vernon Street home of his grandmother, Irene Sweeney, 89, that she told family members her cabinets burst open this morning when the roof came down, sending plates and other items flying.
"She's a lot better now, but she was a mess earlier," Patrick Sweeney said. He said his grandmother, who lives alone in her home at 7 Vernon, is currently staying at his home in Chelsea.
Neighbor Mary Cushman, 46, said she heard the roof collapse sometime between 9:30 and 10.
"It sounded like a bomb went off in the neighborhood," she said.
Soon after, rescuers took Sweeney out of her home. She was conscious and alert, according to Cushman.
"It scared her a lot. I know that," she said.
Neighbor Kristen Smith, 35, described an active scene in the immediate aftermath of the collapse, with firefighters, television news trucks, and utility workers crowding the street.
"It was chaos," she said.
More than half the roof at 9-11 Vernon was caved in this afternoon, and the building was sealed off with "Caution" tape.
Patrick Sweeney said he was thankful that his grandmother avoided injury.
"I'm glad she's all right," he said. "As long as she's OK, that's all that matters."
Deputy Fire Chief Bobby Better said firefighters responded to the scene at about 9 a.m., and that, in addition to the roof caving in, one wall slammed into Sweeney's home as it collapsed.
He said engineers have yet to determine if there is structural damage to Sweeney's home. It was not immediately clear today when she would be able to return.
Better said the building at 9-11 Vernon is about 35 years old and will have to be demolished. He said power was cut to the building after the collapse and firefighters detected an odor of gas coming from inside.
Better said no one was in the building when its roof caved in. He said the current owner, Scott Nguyen, of Medford, bought the property about six months ago and runs a flooring business out of it.
Today's incident was the second roof collapse of a commercial building in Chelsea in as many days, according to Better. He said inspectors have also checked out roofs of school buildings and discovered some areas with snow drifts of more than four feet.
"It's crazy," he said. "It's absolutely crazy."
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