After a partial collapse of a Bronx apartment building, emergency responders from the New York Fire Department found no casualties amidst the debris.
The incident occurred at a seven-story residential building on Billingsley Terrace around 3:30 p.m. on Monday, December 11th.
Firefighters searched through a 12-foot-high pile of rubble, and they discovered no trapped victims, although two individuals sustained minor injuries during the building’s evacuation.
The structural failure occurred at the corner of the building, resulting in apartments being laid bare, reminiscent of an open shelving unit, with a section of a convenience store partially obscured beneath bricks and timber.
Videos from the scene showed the damage’s extent, with walls peeled away and household items visible from the street.
Authorities reported that firefighters reached the site within two minutes, promptly evacuating residents and employees from the building, which comprised 47 apartments and six commercial establishments.
Efforts to remove the debris were exhaustive, with firefighters employing various methods, including robotic assistance.
Prior Violations: Contributing to Collapse
Before the collapse, the Bronx building had been cited for multiple violations concerning its facade and sidewalk shed, as per the New York City Department of Buildings.
Last month, a city inspector issued a summons emphasizing the structural concerns of the building’s sidewalk shed, notably the mudsills – wooden or metal platforms under scaffolding columns that distribute weight.
The inspector’s report pointed out severe deterioration and breakage in these mudsills, coupled with inadequate support, raising alarms about potential structural instability and the risk of a collapse.
The cause of the collapse, whether due to the failure of the sidewalk shed under facade debris or the instability of the scaffolding pulling down parts of the building, remains unclear.
FDNY Chief John Hodgens noted, “We don’t know what caused this corner of this building to come down. We don’t know if any of it is going to come down.”
NYC Department of Buildings Commissioner James Oddo disclosed in a press conference that the building’s owner had submitted their latest report in March 2021, identifying seven unsafe facade conditions, including cracked bricks.
Oddo clarified the distinction between unsafe facade conditions and overall unsafe building structure, noting that the building’s citations were not structural violations. The investigation into the building’s stability and the collapse’s cause is ongoing.
The Red Cross is actively supporting approximately 138 residents displaced by the collapse.
Search efforts extended to neighboring structures at 178 and 182 West Burnside Avenue, where no victims were found.
Officials stated that search teams would continue their efforts until they locate someone or definitively ascertain that no individuals are trapped beneath the debris.