Theres still a lot of danger : Evacuation order issued for homes near collapsed Halifax crane – Globalnews.ca

\There\s still a lot of danger \: Evacuation order issued for homes near collapsed Halifax crane - Globalnews.ca
Evacuation order issued for properties near Halifax crane collapse
Restoration efforts have been going full force in the 48 hours since Hurricane Dorian made landfall in Nova Scotia. As Alicia Draus reports, much of their attention has been on a large crane that came crashing down on the citys downtown.

An evacuation order has been issued for several properties near a construction crane in downtown Halifax that collapsed during Hurricane Dorian on Saturday.

Halifax Regional fire and Emergency (HRFE) officials issued the evacuation order Monday evening to “protecting the health, safety, and welfare” of residents near the crane.

The decision to evacuate some in the area of the downed crane was made with input from a number of organizations, Meldrum said. Risk assessment is ongoing, and a plan for how to remove the crane from it's perch on a building that was under construction has not yet been made.

Halifax Fire orders residents near fallen crane to evacuate homes

According to HRFE, the decision to execute the order was made Monday afternoon at the advice of structural engineers, as well as representatives from the Department of Labour & Advanced Education, Halifax Regional Police, Transportation & Public Works, and the associated property owners.

"This crane is suspended on a building that's under construction, and that material is under great stress," he explained. "If any of that material fails, parts of the crane could slide off and topple and hit adjacent buildings."

“This is still a very dangerous scene and protection for residents was required,” HRFE Chief Dave Meldrum said Monday night.

Meldrum says the toppled crane is being held up by gravity, adding that between 30-40 residents have been impacted by the mandatory evacuation. #Dorian #Halifax @globalhalifax pic.twitter.com/cL5aCMG1iF

Meldrum says 13 residential units and four businesses are under the evacuation order, impacting 30 to 40 people. Those impacted were given the option of staying at a shelter at the Canada Games Centre or with friends and family.

Lawyer Eugene Tan, whose law office is under the evacuation order, said he's been told the evacuations could last a while. 

There currently is not a timeline on how long the evacuation order will last, but Meldrum says it could be in place for days and possibly weeks.

“This is going to be a very complex engineering job,” said Meldrum. “The fire service, we are not structural engineers. We’re a public safety agency.

Despite the challenges that lie ahead with respect to the crane, officials said the situation could have been worse. 

The crane remains bent over an unfinished building, dangling onto the road. South Park Street from Spring Garden Road to Brenton Place will remain closed until officials deem the area safe. Part of Victoria Park is also off limits.

"It's hanging right over our office," Tan said. "So we have no idea what's going to happen."

The crane was being used by Lead Construction on a site owned by WM Fares Group. Wadih Fares, the president and CEO of WM Fares Group, says the crane was put into a storm-ready position in preparation for Dorian, and the crane itself was built to withstand winds of up to 200km/h.

“We will try and do whatever we can to find out why it didnt withstand the wind speed and why it did collapse.”

The construction site has been placed under a stop-work order by the Department of Labour and Occupational Health and Safety, who is conducting an investigation. Engineers are on scene to determine the extent of damage and how best to remove the crane.

The municipality is asking people to avoid the area around where the crane collapsed on Saturday. Both vehicle and pedestrian traffic is being restricted. Here's a map of what's closed off. #NSstorm #afterthestorm pic.twitter.com/2tUTxElima

"A road and sidewalk closure is in place on South Park Street from the south side of Spring Garden Road to the north side of Brenton Place," the city said in a news release. "These closures will remain in place until officials deem the area safe. Part of Victoria Park is also off limits until the site of the collapsed construction crane is deemed safe."

The fire department was also on scene Monday assisting efforts by using their drone to get a better look at damage.

"The crane on the site at Brenton Place and Brenton Street collapsed and toppled onto nearby buildings," said a news release from Brenton-Schmidtville Liveability Group. "Parts of the crane, including the heavy cement counter-weights, fell into South Park Street. Other parts rest atop an unfinished building."

Lawyers Eugene Tan and Ian Gray say their firm will be significantly impacted. Fire officials have told them they’re not allowed back into the building, where all their case files remain.

“We’re going to have to call the Barristers Society in the morning because there’s stuff we can do and there’s stuff we just can’t do,” Gray said. “We will certainly do everything we can to minimize (the impact), but it is what it is. I can’t get in to get my files.”

@globalhalifax Lawyers Eugene Tan and Ian Gray say their firm has been impacted by the evacuation. Tan and Gray sa… twitter.com/i/web/status/1…

Area resident Chris Breckenridge watched as the crane swayed in the wind on Saturday and questions why it was every left up in the first place.

Members of the group are demanding that building developers, HRM and the province hold a public meeting immediately to explain what happened, how it happened, and what theyre going to do to make sure it doesnt happen again.

“If it had (fallen) the other way, thousands of people live within a tiny block, they would have all been affected,” he said. “There’s a huge safety issue with this.”

While engineers try to figure out the best way to remove the wreckage, Nova Scotias Labour Department tells CTV News that its occupational health and safety division is investigating and a stop work order has been issued.

But Fares points out that all across the city cranes were left standing during the storm, and says it’s not feasible to take down cranes if not necessary.

“You have to shut down the streets for a week or two to bring mobile cranes to take it down piece by piece so it’s a two week procedure,” he said.

"Its unfortunate that it did collapse," said Fares. "We are thankful that no one got hurt. At the same time, we have a problem on our hands and we have to find out what happened there."

Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency issued an evacuation order Monday evening to some businesses and 30 residents who live near a crane that collapsed Saturday amidst a powerful post-tropical storm "to remove them from present and imminent danger."

"This is still not a safe place," said Dave Meldrum, deputy chief with Halifax Regional Fire and Emergency. "The crane that is in position is not secure. There are multiple possible failure points."

Christopher Breckenridge, of Clyde Street, and a member of the Brenton-Schmidtville Liveability Group, says he watched the crane swaying in the hurricane moments before the collapse.

Meldrum said several tonnes of steel and weights are under tension and compression, there are several broken steel members, and there is at least one pin that holds the crane together that is clearly not secure. He said the crane is being held in place by gravity.

Halifax Regional Municipality was restricting vehicle and pedestrian traffic in the area and yesterday afternoon ordered tenants to evacuate some nearby buildings.

Hurricane Dorian approached the region as a Category 2 hurricane and made landfall near Halifax on Saturday evening as a post-tropical storm with hurricane-strength winds.

The Canada Games Centre is being made available as a shelter for those who have had to leave their home. The Canadian Red Cross is also offering assistance.

In a news release, the municipality said the decision is being issued for reasons of protecting the health, safety and welfare of the residents.

The decision follows advice from a meeting held Monday afternoon with structural engineers and representatives from Nova Scotia's Department of Labour and Advanced Education, Halifax Regional Police, Transportation and Public Works, and the affected property owners.

Two federal cabinet ministers will be in Halifax today to survey recovery efforts from the damaging hit by post-tropical storm Dorian over the weekend.

The evacuation order is in effect immediately and will continue until the situation can be stabilized and risks to residents and businesses can be mitigated.

Meldrum said he does not know how long the evacuation will last, but he estimates it could be days, if not weeks.

Eugene Tan and Ian Gray, two lawyers who work at Walker Dunlop, a law firm on South Park Street, spoke with fire officials on Monday night about getting into their office.

"[The crane is] hanging right over our office, so we have no idea what's going to happen," Tan said.

Gray said he didn't bring his computer home before the storm and many of his files are in the office.

Gray said the pair will have to talk to the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society on Tuesday to figure out the next steps.

"I'm going to have to talk to lawyers on the other side of files that I've got and say, 'Look, I don't know what to tell you. The whole country saw what happened to my office,'" he said.

On Monday afternoon, CBC News spoke with the developer of the Brenton Street project the crane was working on. Wadih Fares said every necessary precaution was taken in anticipation of Saturday's storm.

"We have very professional people, very good contractors, very good supervision, we do everything according to code and engineering studies," he said. "Other than that, what happens is beyond our control."

Fares said until the investigation by the province's Labour Department is complete, there's no way to know the cause. 

"If we find out that certain things should be done differently, obviously we'll be the first one to do it," he said.

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