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11-01-2012 Building Collapses on MLK Boulevard


Residents in an apartment building next door told firefighters that they heard a loud noise around 5:30 a.m., but it was dark and when they looked outside, they didn't see anything. Then around 8:00 a.m., one of the residents went outside and saw that the building next door had almost completely collapsed. Unfortunately, two cars belonging to two of the residents were crushed by the falling debris.

As a safety precaution, Battalion Chief Rodney Jones ordered a two-block area to be shut down on MLK Boulevard, from King Street to Houston Street. The apartments in the adjacent building were evacuated, and a couple of businesses were also ordered to evacuate.

Eyewitnesses in the area said the building was a nightclub at one point, but it has reportedly been vacant for years. In an effort to ascertain whether or not anyone might have been inside the structure, the fire department's Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team was called in. Using special cameras designed to probe through fallen debris, Chief Jones said the firefighters found no signs that anyone was inside at the time of the collapse.

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Tactical Services Chief Danny Hague determined that the remaining walls that were left standing needed to be removed, so a city public works track-hoe was brought in to pull down the walls and render the scene safe. That effort was delayed for a couple of hours while utility crews tried to locate and shut off the gas service to the old building. Once the gas was shut off, demolition work began again, but was stopped when two barrels were found. One of the barrels was full and marked as a corrosive material. So, Chief Hague called in a cleanup company to remove the two barrels so that they could be disposed of properly.

The demolition work is expected to take several more hours before city building inspectors can inspect the scene to make sure it's safe, which means that MLK Boulevard will also be shut down from King to Houston streets for several hours.

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Chattanooga, TN 37406
(423) 643-5600
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Chattanooga, TN 37406
(423) 643-5618
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