Florida Building Collapse Brings Back Painful Memories For Oklahomans

Friday, June 25th 2021, 10:28 pm
By: Clayton Cummins


As the weekend approaches, eyes worldwide remain focused in Miami as rescue crews work around the clock at the site of a partial residential condo building collapse.

A portion of the 12 story Champlain Towers South building collapsed Thursday. The building makes up 136 units. Fifty-five units were involved in the collapse.

Metro first responders know building collapses all too well after experiencing it firsthand in the bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in 1995.

“We wish we could just go in there and find everybody immediately,” said District Chief Greg Merrell of the Oklahoma City Fire Department. “But it is a long process, it is grueling process.”

Oklahoma City Fire has a fully staffed rescue unit, including K9’s, that specialize in structure collapses like in Miami.

Merrell said rescues, like of a 10th grader pulled from rubble Thursday, is very dangerous work.

“It’s physically demanding but it’s also emotionally demanding on our personnel,” said Merrell. “There is a lot of thought process going on. We want to ensure safety of our own personnel as well as we are there to help save the victims.”

Doctor Norb Deloatte is a structure export at Oklahoma State University. He said clues as to what caused Thursday’s collapse may lie at the base of the building.

“A building next to the ocean for 40 years, that salt (and) air environment is very corrosive to building materials,” said Deloatte. “That is something we would look at.”

Experts said it too soon to speculate what caused this devastation. It could be at least a year before finding out.

“If we can find out what can happen, then that is what allows us to improve our design codes, improve our procedures,” said Deloatte.

The Champlain Towers South building is around 40 years old, built in 1981.