Global Courant 2023-05-29 09:32:10
DAVENPORT, Iowa — Rescue operations were underway Sunday night after part of an apartment building collapsed in the eastern Iowa city of Davenport. Authorities have not said if anyone was killed.
Authorities said people were being treated for injuries at the scene, but did not say how many.
Rescue workers were called to the scene shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday. Firefighters rescued seven people and escorted more than a dozen others from the building in their initial response, Davenport Fire Chief Michael Carlsten said at a news conference.
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Carlsten said the back of the six-story apartment building had collapsed and was separating from the building, which houses apartments on the top floors and businesses on the ground floor.
Authorities found a gas leak after the collapse, Carlsten said, while water had also leaked through the floors of the structure.
Rescuers were still searching for people missing on Sunday. The building’s stability was a concern following secondary collapses while rescuers were on site, Carlsten said.
“Our focus now is on rescue,” Davenport Mayor Mike Matson said at a news conference.
“This is an active scene. We will keep working, keep evaluating, with the whole goal of finding people and getting them out,” Matson said, adding that he spoke with Governor Kim Reynolds, who offered help.
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Davenport police asked people to avoid downtown after the collapse.
A reunion area at St. Anthony’s Church on Main Street was maintained by Red Cross personnel, Carlsten said.
The cause of the collapse was not immediately known.
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Rich Oswald, director of development and community services for the City of Davenport, said at a news conference that work was being done on the outside of the building at the time of the collapse.
Reports of bricks falling from the building earlier this week were part of that work, and the building’s owner had a permit for the project, Oswald said.
The Quad-City Times reported that Robert Robinson, a second-floor resident, had gone out and returned when the alarm went off in the building.
“When we started to go back, the lights went out,” he told the paper. “Suddenly everyone started running outside saying the building was collapsing. I’m glad we came down when we did.
Robinson and his girlfriend were able to take the elevator down just in time, he said.
“This is terrible,” he said. ‘We can’t go anywhere. Nothing to eat.”
Tadd Machovec, a contractor in Davenport, told the newspaper he was hanging inside a support beam when the building collapsed.
Some people in the neighborhood said the building had problems. City officials said on Sunday they had several complaints from residents about necessary repairs.
Jennifer Smith, co-owner of Fourth Street Nutrition, said she learned of the explosion from her husband, who works for Mid-American Energy.
“He was on call and was called to a downtown building explosion. We had no idea it was our building,” she said. “It sounds bad, but we have been calling the municipality since December. Our bathroom collapsed in December.”
Smith said water damage is evident since they moved into their space over the winter. The company’s co-owner, Deonte Mack, said firefighters were not at the building until Thursday for an inspection.
“The tenants told us the building was going to collapse,” Smith said.
The Quad-City Times reported that the building is owned by Andrew Wold. A working telephone number for Wold was not immediately available on Sunday evening and attempts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
Nearly 20 permits were applied for in 2022 for building repairs, mostly for plumbing or electrical issues, according to the county appraiser’s office.