NATIONAL NEWS

Search Back On After Rest Of South Florida Condo Demolished

Jul 5, 2021, 5:45 AM
The remaining part of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building falls ...
The remaining part of the partially collapsed 12-story Champlain Towers South condo building falls with a controlled demolition on July 4, 2021 in Surfside, Florida. The decision by officials to bring the rest of the building down was brought on by the approach of Tropical Storm Elsa and fears that the structure might come down in an uncontrolled fashion. Over one hundred people are missing as the search-and-rescue effort continues. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

SURFSIDE, Fla. (AP) — Rescuers were given the all-clear to resume work looking for victims at a collapsed South Florida condo building after demolition crews set off a string of explosives that brought down the last of the building in a plume of dust.

Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava told the Associated Press that the demolition went “exactly as planned” around 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

Crews immediately began clearing some of the new debris so rescuers could start making their way into parts of the underground garage that is of particular interest. Once there, they were hoping to get a clearer picture of voids that may exist in the rubble and could possibly harbor the 121 people believed to be trapped under the fallen wing of the Champlain Towers South in Surfside that collapsed June 24.

No one has been rescued alive since the first hours after the collapse. On Sunday, Miami-Dade police identified David Epstein, 58, as one of the 24 people known to have perished in the fallen tower. His remains were recovered Friday.

Shortly after the demolition, cranes were again in motion at the site, suggesting that crews were back in place in the wee hours of Monday morning to sift through the rubble from above and below.

Rescuers are hoping the demolition will give them access for the first time to parts of the garage area. Once a new pathway into the initial rubble is secure, “we will go back to the debris pile, and we’ll begin our search and rescue efforts,” Miami-Dade Fire Chief Albert Cominsky said at a press conference several hours before the remaining wing of the residential high rise came tumbling down.

During the demolition, a loud rat-at-tat of explosions echoed from the structure. Then the building began to fall, one floor after another, cascading into an explosion of dust. Plumes billowed into the air, as crowds watched the scene from afar.

“It was picture perfect. Exactly what we were told would happen,” Levine Cava said in an interview shortly after the demolition.

Levine Cava expressed relief that the search for victims can now continue, after being suspended on Saturday so workers could begin rigging the damaged but still-upright portion of the the partly-collapsed tower with explosives — a precarious operation that could have caused the structure to fail.

“I feel relief because this building was unstable. The building was hampering our search efforts,” Levine Cava said.

Some residents had pleaded to return to their homes one last time to retrieve belongings left in haste, but were denied. Others wondered about the pets left behind, even though officials said they found no signs of animals after making three final sweeps, including the use of drones to peer into the abandoned structure.

Approaching Tropical Storm Elsa has added urgency to the demolition plans with forecasts suggesting there could be strong winds in the area by Monday. President Joe Biden declared a state of emergency in Florida because of the storm, making federal aid possible.

The latest forecasts have moved the storm westward, mostly sparing South Florida, but National Hurricane Center meteorologist Robert Molleda said the area could still feel effects.

“We’re expecting primarily tropical storm force gusts,” Molleda said, referring to gusts above 40 mph (64 kph).

The decision to demolish the remnants of the Surfside building came after concerns mounted that the damaged structure was at risk of falling, endangering the crews below and preventing them from operating in some areas. Parts of the remaining building shifted on Thursday, prompting a 15-hour suspension in the work.

Authorities had gone door-to-door to advise nearby residents of the timing of the demolition, and to ask them to keep windows closed. They were told to stay inside until two hours after the blast to avoid the dust raised by the implosion.

The method used for Sunday night’s demolition is called “energetic felling,” which uses small detonation devices and relies on the force of gravity. Levine Cava, speaking ahead of the demolition, said that should bring the building down in place, containing the collapse to the immediate surroundings so as to minimally disturb the existing mound of debris — where scores of people are believed to be trapped.

Officials used tarps to visually mark the search area, in case new debris scattered unexpectedly.

State officials said they hired the BG Group, a general contractor based in Delray Beach, Florida, to lead the demolition. They did not immediately respond to an inquiry about how the firm was selected, but a contract for the project calls for the state to pay the company $935,000.

A spokesperson for the state’s Division of Emergency Management said the company subcontracted with Maryland-based Controlled Demolition Inc., which experts say is among only a handful of companies in the U.S. that demolishes structures using explosives. The company was supposed to place explosives on the basement and lobby levels of the still-standing structure, according to the contract for the work.

CDI is “probably one of the best” in the industry, said Steve Schwartz, a member of the National Demolition Association’s board of directors. He described the company’s president and owner, Mark Loizeaux, as “cool, calm and collected.”

In implosions — using explosives to have a building fall in on itself — the charges are generally set off in rapid succession over a matter of seconds, said Scott Homrich, who heads the National Demolition Association and runs his own demolition company in Detroit, Michigan. Setting the explosives off at intervals serves to break up the building at the same time it’s coming down.

___

Calvan reported from Tallahassee. Associated Press writers Terry Spencer in Surfside, Florida; Adriana Gomez Licon in Miami Florida; Sudhin Thanawala in Atlanta, and Ian Mader in Miami contributed to this report.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

Post-tropical storm Fiona in Irish Cova, Nova Scotia on Cape Breton Island in Canada Sept. 24, 2022...
ROB GILLIES Associated Press

Fiona washes houses away, knocks out power in Canada

Strong rain and winds are lashing the Atlantic Canada region as Fiona hits as a powerful post-tropical cyclone. Canadian forecasters are warning it could be one of the most severe storms in the country's history. Fiona made landfall in Nova Scotia before dawn Saturday after transforming from a hurricane into a post-tropical cyclone. Forecasters caution that despite the change, Fiona still has hurricane-strength winds and will bring drenching rains and huge waves. More than 500,000 customers in Atlantic Canada are affected by outages. Ocean waves pounded the town of Channel-Port Aux Basques on the southern coast of Newfoundland, where entire structures were washed into the sea.
14 hours ago
An illustration shows NASA's DART spacecraft and the Italian Space Agency's LICIACube prior to impa...
Ashley Strickland, CNN

What will be visible when DART spacecraft crashes into tiny asteroid

The NASA Double Asteroid Redirection Test aims to make history on Monday at 7:14 p.m. ET when it slams into Dimorphos, a tiny asteroid moon orbiting the larger asteroid Didymos.
2 days ago
NASA’s Artemis I rocket sits on launch pad 39-B at Kennedy Space Center as it is prepared for an ...
MARCIA DUNN, AP Aerospace Writer

Approaching storm may delay launch try for NASA moon rocket

NASA's new moon rocket could face more launch delays, this time by tropical weather.
2 days ago
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey speaks at a Make America Great Again campaign rally on October 19, 2020...
BOB CHRISTIE, AP

Arizona judge: State can enforce near-total abortion ban

Arizona can enforce a near-total ban on abortions that has been blocked for nearly 50 years, a judge ruled Friday, meaning clinics across the state will have to stop providing the procedures to avoid the filing of criminal charges against doctors and other medical workers.
2 days ago
Courtesy 20th Century Studios
23 Sep 22...
Jason Carroll and Lisa Respers France, CNN

James Cameron says ‘Avatar 2’ is ‘more emotional’ than the original

James Cameron spoke to the differences of the new film.
2 days ago
WASHINGTON, DC - File photo: House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).(Photo by Liz Lynch/Getty ...
LISA MASCARO AP Congressional Correspondent

McCarthy unveils House GOP’s midterm agenda in Pennsylvania

House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy on Friday confronted President Joe Biden and the Democratic majority in Congress with a conservative midterm election agenda filled with Trump-like promises, working not only to win over voters but to hold together the uneasy coalition of his own party that has struggled to govern.
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

young woman with stickers on laptop computer...
Les Olson

7 ways print marketing materials can boost your business

Custom print marketing materials are a great way to leave an impression on clients or customers. Read for a few ideas to spread the word about your product or company.
young woman throwing clothes to organize a walk in closet...
Lighting Design

How to organize your walk-in closet | 7 easy tips to streamline your storage today

Read our tips to learn how to organize your walk-in closet for more storage space. These seven easy tips can help you get the most out of your space.
Types of Computer Malware and Examples...
PC Laptops

5 Nasty Types of Computer Malware and Examples | Everything You Need to Know to Keep Your Computer and Family Safe

Here are the different types of computer malware and examples that could potentially infect your computer.
tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
Search Back On After Rest Of South Florida Condo Demolished