CBS 2 - May 05, 2012
No Injuries Reported, But Witnesses Say Incident Had A 9/11-Like AtmosphereNEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- More than 100 firefighters responded to the the scene of a five-story building collapse in Harlem late Friday afternoon.
The incident happened at West 123rd and Lenox Avenue, where the building was being rehabbed before it suddenly turned into rubble, CBS 2′s Sean Hennessey reported.
No injuries were reported.
As a precautionary measure, the Department of Buildings and FDNY had checked if anyone was under the debris. Around 6 p.m. Friday, officials announced that no one had been found and that no one was living at the location.
Hours later, rubble was an eerie reminder of the close call had by all.
"And I just heard 'crack,'" witness Shane Weekes.
Weekes was giving his son a haircut right across the street when the structure suffered a pancake collapse, floor by floor.
"Once you heard the first crack is, crack, crack, crack, crack, crack," Weekes said.
"It was like a tsunami of dust toward my bedroom," Susan Shlang added.
Shlang and David Rosenberg felt the rumblings from next door.
"It was like 9/11.The dust was so thick you couldn't even see more than a foot," Rosenberg said.
Neighbors said workers had been gutting the building for the past week and that there was a structural issue.
"The side wall, they knew the side wall was in bad shape, but I guess it was in worse shape than they thought, so the whole thing came right down," witness Denise Rivera said.
"We all went over there and was screaming out, 'Yo, is anyone there, is anyone there?' But we didn't hear nothing," Weekes added.
No one was living there and construction workers had called it a day at noon. Still, firefighters sifted through bricks while canines sniffed for humans just in case.
"We're fairly well satisfied that the building was unoccupied at the time of the collapse," FDNY Chief Robert Sweeney.
The Department of Buildings said the brownstone was more than a century old and that there hadn't been any problems since the construction permit was taken out in April.